Christmas in July: “Outside the Box” Gifts

This is post #4 of 5 in the Christmas in July series.

When shopping for Christmas gifts it’s tempting to run out and buy the newest, shiniest, most popular toy you can find with flashing lights and lots of sound effects. It’s the one you know will get a big reaction when your child (or the child you’re shopping for) opens the box. And then, a few days later it’s sitting alone in the corner… six months later it’s completely forgotten.

Here’s a list of some “outside the box” gift ideas:

  • Membership to a place – Brookfield Zoo, a children’s museum, a museum, a play place, or other family friendly place. This is the gift that keeps giving because your child or the family you give it to benefits from it for the entire year. (Note: This is the gift I request the most from family for birthdays and Christmas! My kids have way too many toys already and a membership is something we really use and they love.)
  • Membership to a monthly box club – Wittleebee offers monthly boxes of children’s clothing (see my review of our Wittlebee Box, and save $10 off your first Wittlebee Box); Green Kid Crafts, BabbaBox, and KiwiCrate all offer monthly craft boxes for kids; Little Passports sends monthly packages to teach kids about other countries and cultures. Kids will love getting mail with their name on it.
  • An adventure – Plan a trip to a kids place, a fun meal, and maybe a special dessert. The kids will look forward to it and you can plan it for about the time when the novelty of the new Christmas toys wears off. If they aren’t your kids it’s an even better gift – an adventure for the kids and a day off for their parents!
  • A light up gift for their room –Uncle Milton’s Toys has a great selection, including Shooting Stars in My Room, Fireflies in My Room, and Rainbow in My Room. I bought Rainbow in My Room for my boys last year for Christmas. It was immediately tossed aside for more exciting gifts, but once we plugged it in they fell in love. We use it EVERY night at bedtime.
  • Stomp Rocket – Foam rockets powered by a blast of air. There are different versions of the Stomp Rocket, some for children as young as 3 years old, and some that fly as high as 400 feet in the air. This was another gift under our tree last year and my husband loves it as much as the kids do! Edit: These are available on Zulily at a discounted price until 7/30!
  • Play silks – Colorful silk available in various sizes that kids can use for imaginative play. My kids use them as capes, blankets for stuffed animals, wrapping for gifts, skirts, and tons of other things. They are very versatile toys that can be used for almost anything. Magic Cabin and Sarah’s Silks sell these, and you can find play silks on Etsy.
  • Gifts from ThinkGeek – Find stuff for babies, toddlers, older kids, and adults. You’ll find stuff here you haven’t seen (or even thought of) before. Some of my favorites: Princess Ice Cube Straws, LEGO Star Wars Zip Bin, Yoda Plush Backpack, Superhero Raincoats for Kids, and Grow Your Own Coffee.
  • Camping gear – Even though it’s not warm enough to actually camp out kids love sleepovers or even pretending camp inside. Tents, sleeping bags, and flashlights are fun gifts and sometimes even inspire kids to hang out in a tent or fort and play quietly (a gift for mom too!). Melissa and Doug’s Sunny Patch toys are really fun and pretty affordable.
  • A magazine subscriptionZoobooks, Highlights, and National Wildlife Federation publish magazines for toddlers and young children.
  • ClassesKids Science Labs is a personal favorite of mine, but you can also find classes at the local park district, children’s museums, zoos, and lots of other places.
  • Busy Bags – A busy bag is an activity for a child that’s small enough to fit in a small bag or container (we use Ziploc bags for ours). You can find ideas for easy to make Busy Bags on Google and Pinterest. You can also purchase busy bags on Etsy. (And anything that keeps the kids busy is a great gift for mom and dad too!)

For spouses, friends, grandparents, siblings:

  • Gift certificate for a service – maid service, snow removal, etc. (Watch daily deal sites like GrouponPlum DistrictLiving SocialEversave,MamasourceGroopdealz, and Tippr for great deals on services.)
  • Personalized photographs – Instead of the standard photos, try something personalized for the recipient. Dress the kids in their favorite color, or in clothing from their favorite team. If they have a particular interest (cars, dogs, etc) include props that fit the theme. You can also just do fun, non-traditional photographs. A friend and I dressed our kids in jeans and black t-shirts and covered them in temporary tattoos for Halloween themed pictures. JCPenney offers portrait sheets for only $4 each; they’re not my favorite photographers, but the pictures are usually decent and the price is great for some fun shots.
  • Artwork made by kids – Try out handprint or fingerprint artwork (check out my Pinterest board of handprint & fingerprint projects), or have your kid paint on canvas.
  • An overnight getaway – It might sound pricey, but if you use a site like Hotwire you can find some really fantastic deals for a night away from the kids or a short family getaway. I found a 3-star hotel in the Magnificent Mile area for only $87 for a weeknight stay.
Consider adopting a new holiday tradition:
  • Want, Need, Wear, Read guidelines for gifts – Each family member receives only four gifts – one thing they want, one thing they need, only thing to wear, and one thing to read.
  • Have a handmade Christmas – Exchange only handmade gifts.
What’s the best unusual gift you’ve given or received? Any suggestions for how to think “outside the box” while holiday shopping?
See the other Christmas in July posts:

Some (although not most) of the above links are affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through them you will be helping to support this site; any of these are included because these are sites and/or products I use myself. All opinions expressed are my own.

Show buttons
Hide buttons