25 Great Non Toy Gift Ideas for Children – Christmas and Birthdays

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Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by Suzy

I’m currently all for experiences over physical gifts as I literally don’t think we could wedge one more thing into our son’s playroom. His play area has even expanded to a landing upstairs and enough is enough. I think we need to focus even more now on doing things with him and creating memories rather than cramming our house full of more toys. (plus we have a huge amount to tick off our bucket list).

If you’ve read my blog before you will know that we already do an awful lot with him and perhaps one experience may be no different to him than the last one. But if we can keep doing amazing things and letting him know that it’s an extra special treat then hopefully it will be appreciated for that.

If you do go for any of the following ideas, as a Christmas or birthday present, I’m sure there are plenty of fun ways to present this to them. You could wrap the ticket up in lots of layers, or buy a series of clues for what you are doing. Perhaps hide the clues around the house or create a game around it. So what are my ideas for non-toy gift ideas for kids? Read on to find out……

#1 – Family Friendly Festival Tickets

The UK is not short of family-friendly festivals. Some of them book up really fast and tickets are available right now for a lot of them. Why not take a tent or a caravan and spend the weekend soaking up the fun? My top picks would be Latitude in Suffolk, Camp Bestival in Devon and the Just So Festival in Cheshire.

#2 – Music classes

Our son now owns a ‘grown-up’ guitar and a piano. I think that playing an instrument is a great thing for any kid to do. Music classes could be a good gift idea for your budding musician of the future. Perhaps you could buy them a musical instrument as a gift with the promise of lessons?

#3 – Walk an Alpaca

There are a few places in the UK where you can take an Alpaca for a walk. I’ve totally sold myself on this one just by browsing a few websites, they are so cute! Our son is mad on animals and would love to do this. Plus it gets them outside and exercising at the same time. Win! Win! Why not look at Charnwood Forest Alpacas in Leicestershire, Beacon Alpacas in Yorkshire or Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm in Warwickshire?

#4 – Birds of Prey Experience

Our son was only 3 when he first experienced a birds of prey experience and he loved it. He was so sweet with them stroking them and talking to them. I don’t think he now remembers his experience so it would be lovely for him to do it again soon. The choice of places that offer experiences is vast. We, for example, tried it at Centre Parcs.

For me, I think the more outdoors you are for this experience the better so look for somewhere out in the countryside and also look for somewhere that allows the children to fly owls. They are the most likely to want to be stroked and are such amazing calm animals. They are also less likely to fly off and are light on the hand (well glove!).

 #5 – Junior Animal Experience

I can’t wait for our to be old enough to have a junior experience at a zoo. It’s something that I know he will love as he adores animals and it would be a great learning experience. Most have a minimum age of 6 or 7. There are all sorts of experiences out there such as a meet the Meerkats experience, zookeeper for a day, snorkelling with baby sharks and more. If anyone ever comes across anything for under 7’s please do let me know.

 #6 – Annual Pass to their Favourite Attraction

Is there somewhere that your kids are always asking to visit? Is there somewhere where you go a lot? It may be time to invest in an annual pass. It would make the kids year to know that they can go as much as they want. Nearly all major attractions offer annual passes. There can be some great savings made by purchasing one.

Twycross Zoo, for example, offers an annual pass for £70 for an adult and £55 for a child. Not only does this allow you to visit the zoo as much as you like in 364 days but it also allows you free entry into 10 other zoos across the UK. How great is that?

 #7 – Hotel stay at a Major UK Theme Park

Themed rooms are children’s dream holidays. They can be so expensive though but if you get yourself on the attractions mailing list then you can be ready and in the know for when they have their sales (usually in January).

As this is one of the more pricey of my suggestions why not ask other people that are wanting to buy your little one something, to chip in as well? Before he gets too old for Cbeebies we would love to stay at CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers. They have all sorts of themed rooms from Postman Pat to In the night garden and from Swashbuckle to Octonauts.

 #8 – Something Sporty that they’ve never done before

I would love for our son to experience some new sports soon. I think it would be really fun to book for him to do something a little different to what he’s used to. As he’s only four there is probably quite a limit on what he can try but young children can have a go at archery, kayaking with their parents, ice skating with the help of penguins and other such characters or go junior tubing at an indoor ski slope.

 #9 – Young Driver Experience

Again there are a few places across the UK offering young driver experiences. I have found one from the age of 10 where they can enjoy 30 minutes of driving on a replica road system that represents UK roads, including junctions, roundabouts and road signs. The cars are fitted with an automatic braking system to avoid collisions. Most kids think they have to be 17 to drive a car, so they would be over the moon to be able to do this.

#10 – Luxury Glamping

Or any kind of glamping. Maybe once you’ve tried luxury glamping you will never try ‘regular’ glamping. I am sure this will be an appreciated thing to do. Our son loved our first-ever glamping holiday and has been nagging ever since to go again. This time we would love our own facilities and heating of some kind. There are some really magical places to book in some stunning locations.

 #11 – Stay in a Castle

It’s a win-win if your child loves Princesses or Knights because staying in a real castle means that they can live out their fantasies. Imagine their faces when they see that you’ve booked to stay at one. There are some really magical castles waiting to be stayed at.

 #12 – Steam Train Journey

Most kids I’m sure love a ride on a steam train. We are lucky in the UK to have so many places still running steam trains. If your kids love Thomas the Tank Engine why not book for them to have a ride at one of the many places across the UK?

Or for a longer journey, you could book on the Whitby to Pickering route on the North York Moors Railway. This train travels through some of the most beautiful scenery that the UK has to offer. The journey one way takes about an hour and a half.

 #13 – Search for Fossils

Why not book a holiday somewhere where there are fossils to be found on the beach? Not only are you teaching your kids something about history but I’m sure it’s a memory that will last. Plus you will hopefully find something to take away and remember the holiday by.

You could book to stay along the Jurassic coast from Dorset to East Devon. Other places are just south of Robin Hood’s Bay up in north Yorkshire, Llantwit Major in Wales and more.

 #14 – Go Whale or Dolphin watching

Believe it or not, there are a few places along the UK coastline where you can go on a cruise to spot a dolphin and/or whales. Whitby Whale Watching has a great graph on its website stating the best times to go out to sea to hopefully see these amazing sea mammals. Some of the boats even have toilets, a big bonus for families! Remember though that sightings can’t be guaranteed and wrap up warm, it can get very cold out at sea.

 #15 – Sleep under the stars?

This is probably one for the summer months but our boy is obsessed with the stars. He loves to go out in the dark and gaze up at his Grandad. This would be the ultimate experience for him and I know it’s one I loved doing as a girl guide when I was young.

There are very few places now in the UK to get a really good view of the stars. Sadly street lighting and pollution are hiding our stars away. The National Trust has published a useful list of where to stay to get the best views of the stars.

 #16 – Spend the night in a Museum

Have you ever seen the film ‘Night at the Museum’? It’s a great film and should be on everyone’s family film bucket list. Inspired by the film there are now a few museums that actually allow you to stay overnight. Most sleepovers at museums in London are for children aged 7+.

You can even sleep with the dinosaurs at the Natural history museum. Kids can enjoy a torch-lit trail of the dinosaur gallery, create their own dinosaur t-shirt and enjoy a live science show with a museum expert. When you wake up, and before the museum opens to the public, you can dig into a delicious breakfast and a live animal show.

 #17 – Hire a Boat on the Waterways of the UK

Why not give your kids a whole new view of the UK that can only be seen by boat? Our nation is full of waterways and boat hire companies. From canal boats to large boats, there’s something to suit everyone. 

#18 – Indoor SkyDiving

Kids from the age of 3 children can experience indoor Skydiving. What fun! Ever since our son saw his cousin skydive for real he has wanted to do it himself. There are a lot of years to live until he can do this for real so for now this experience could be for him. You are suspended in a wind tunnel by a 120mph wind. The flight itself doesn’t last very long, however, the experience itself isn’t too expensive and the overall visit lasts for nearly 2 hours.

#19 – Go Karting

I keep meaning to take the little one Go-Karting but we never get around to it and I know that he’d love to go. He is a really good driver and can navigate a coin-operated quad bike with ease. Not all circuits allow really young children to drive themselves, however, there are some out there and others allow children to ride with an adult.

Why not book for a few family members to go and you can all have a race? Some tracks are indoors and some are outdoors.

 #20 – Themed Photoshoot

You could actually make a photo shoot fun for your kids. There are quite a lot of photographers now offering themed photoshoots. Your child could see themselves transformed into a superhero, fairy, elf or almost anything their heart desires. The bonus is you then get some lovely keepsakes.

#21 – A Meal at a Themed Restaurant

Why not make eating out really fun and book a meal for you all at a themed restaurant? The one I know my boy would love is the Jungle Cave Restaurant in London plus there are a few Hard Rock cafés in the UK.

#22 – Afternoon Tea

Our little one has done this twice already and loved it both times. Sure he was a bit of a fidget but the staff didn’t mind and he was in food heaven. Both places we booked offered a smaller selection of food for him and they both spoilt him as much as ourselves.

 #23 – Tickets for Cirque De Soleil

My husband treated me a few years ago and took me to see Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall. Children are usually fascinated by shows and all things to do with the circus. Cirque Du Soleil it’s incredibly stunning and breathtaking.

While they do tour the UK at arenas the ultimate would be to see them again at the Royal Albert Hall. Why not push the boat out and book a family adventure package?

#24 – Adopt an Animal and then take them to meet it

Most zoos and animal parks in the UK offer animal adoption. There’s a variety of keepsakes your child will be given in return and then you could really make their year by taking them to meet their adopted pet. Although if you adopt a lion I doubt they will be allowed to stroke it!

Many sanctuaries also offer animal adoption or there are national charities such as the WWF where you can adopt an email, although they won’t be able to meet them as they offer adoptions overseas.

 #25 – Tickets for Disney on Ice

Our son loved Disney on Ice so much last year that we are going again this year. If you all love Disney as much as we do then seeing them skating on ice can be a magical experience. This option can apply to any show that your child may love to go and see. A trip to the theatre or an arena is a great gift option.

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