Alex send me this musing on non-clutter gifts a long time ago. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
Experiences are a great alternative to “stuff” as presents. Give tickets to the aquarium, or to a concert (an inexpensive one, anyway). If you are someone the child is close to (particularly a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.) you could give “gift certificates” for things they get to do with you — “a trip to the beach with Aunt Patty.”
One thing we’ve done is give kids “cookies in a jar,” where all the dry ingredients for a cookie recipe (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc) are layered in a jar, with the recipe attached. You could also give a basket with everything needed to bake your own bread, or something similar.
Finally, we’re big fans of magazine subscriptions, mostly for older kids — one good option is Kids Discover, which focuses on a different science or nature theme in each issue. Steer clear of National Geographic for Kids, however, as it’s LOADED with ads for plastic toy crap and horrible junk food. (Shame on the National Geographic Society!) [I second that. — Ed.]
What are the best no-clutter, experiential gifts you’ve given, or that your kids have received?