Need A New Idea For Birthdays? 10 Great Non-Toy Birthday Gift Ideas

Think Adventures, Tickets, Subscriptions & Charities. Something Different To Fit Everyone.

By Melissa Shrader Editor/Publisher Fort Collins Macaroni Kid July 29, 2018

A Charitable Trend in Parties

There’s a new trend in children’s birthday parties that moms (and dads!) will love as much as we do.

Increasingly, elementary school-aged children are invited to parties with a charitable goal. Along with coming to celebrate at the party, guests are asked to bring donations to support a local charity. The birthday child chooses the charity, the guests choose items to bring, and the charity and community benefit.

To celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday we hosted a party where she asked her guests to bring contributions to a weekend feeding program for low income children across the nation. Children leave school each Friday with a bag of child-friendly meals. My daughter sees classmates who benefit from these donations, and this makes hunger a real issue for her. She was so proud to collect the donations she did- in her case over 60 pounds of food!

My daughter is certainly not the only generous one.  In the past few years she’s been invited to other charitable parties. Animal shelters have been popular and she enjoyed picking out toys, food and treats for dogs in the pound and knowing that might cheer them up.

Parents will love seeing guests buy something that makes a difference in the community rather than another toy or trinket that their child does not need. And the birthday boy or girl will, too! You might be surprised to discover the satisfaction of helping will be just as enjoyable as a gift for your child.

Ready to plan a charitable party to support your community? Here are a few ideas to consider.

  • Book drives
  • Soap, toothpaste, shampoo and personal care items for local homeless and women’s shelters
  • Underwear, socks, diapers and/or pajamas for homeless and women’s shelters
  • Art supplies for local recreation and art programs
  • Toy & clothing drives to benefit local shelters and foster care programs
  • Backpacks for foster children
  • Jeans to benefit low income teenagers (used jeans are fine)
  • Care packages for the military
  • School supplies for low income students & schools
  • Food donations for pantries/feeding programs
  • Dog & cat food and supplies

If you are looking for something a bit different, try one of these fun ideas. 

1. Memberships – An individual or family membership to a local organization makes a great gift that keeps giving! There are so many choices that can be tailored to a child's or family’s interest. Some great choices are the local children’s museum, wildlife sanctuary, nature center, or the YMCA.

2. Subscription Boxes – You can get just about anything in a subscription box these days ... science experiments, crafts, snacks, toys, and more!

3. Adventures – Plan a day out and then print out a page with images of the things you'll spend the day doing together. Riddles and treasure hunts make really fun ways to have kids uncover all of the fun events that will take place on an adventure day too! 

4. Books – Books encourage children to read, and adults to read to them. Stop in and visit with the knowledgeable staff at your local bookstore. They will have wonderful book suggestions for kids and kids at heart. 

5. Tickets - Theater tickets, movie tickets, concert tickets, baseball tickets etc. Think local here for big savings. Check out local schools for theater shows, concerts and sporting events. Younger kids love seeing teens perform and it gives them a taste of where they will be in a few years.

6. Magazine subscriptions - This is another one where there is something for every kid, from babies to teens!

7. I.O.U. Cards – Create coupons for playing a favorite board game, getting out of cleaning up after a meal, staying up half an hour late, and other fun ideas. Just simple things that kids love and don’t cost money for you. 

8. Lessons – Swimming, horseback riding, cooking, art, theater … the list is endless and you can find something for everyone.

9. Family Vacation – Wrap up plane or train tickets, an itinerary, or hints about a great family vacation. Near or far, whatever trip you plan to take this year can be a surprise! 

10. Donations - It's always a great time to teach your child about helping others. Make a donation in the child's name to an organization that is important to him/her, or give them a gift card to purchase items for that organization, then deliver them as a family. For example, go shopping for items for your local food pantry or animal shelter.