Alternative Gift Ideas: 5 Tips on Getting Relatives to Think Outside the (Gift) Box

Post sponsored by Kiwi CrateFamily and friends are asking for gift suggestions. Are you already drowning in toys? This season give suggestions that will keep on giving AFTER the holidays.

Below are 5 tips on getting relatives to think outside of the (gift) box + 5 alternative gift ideas.

Our family is blessed with holiday abundance. My mom’s Love Language is gift giving and around Christmas she takes it to the next level. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last few years:

1. Give suggestions. Don’t expect grandparents or loved ones to keep gifts light because you want them to, it won’t happen. Instead give them alternative ideas and suggestions.

2. Be prepared for this rebuttal, “but they need SOMETHING to open under the tree.” Yes, yes, yes. We all love flying wrapping paper and gleeful squeals as gifts are being opened. When you propose an alternative gift suggestion be sure to have a coordinating “under the tree” suggestion. For example, this year we are going to taking the girls on a short weekend to the city theater to see The Wizard of Oz. [Click here to read 5 Tips for Fostering a Lifelong Love of Theater.] So we are giving the girls ruby red slippers and a copy of the movie under the tree on Christmas.

5 Tips on Getting Relatives to Think Outside the (Gift) Box #Christmas #KidsWith each of the five gift ideas below you’ll find simple (and minimal) gift suggestions for under the fir.

3. Focus on giving. Let people know that this year you’re teaching your child the joy of giving. Gently remind them that you want the holidays to be about family, rather than having the focus be on them receiving 101 gifts, and that you appreciate their help.

4. Offer to help. Often alternative gifts are complicated for people who are not computer savvy. My parents hate trying to figure out registration systems, online purchases, and digital gift cards. Help your generous gift giver by offering to walk them through the tech portion.

5. Make the benefits of giving unconventional gifts greater than a traditional present. Be sure to show and tell the gift-giver how much the kids enjoyed the unique present. For example, one year we received a kid’s magazine subscription. Every month when it came I sent an Instagram of the girls reading the latest issue. Reminders let the gift-giver know that her present brought the girls joy all year long.

Another year my parents bought the girls tickets to see Mary Poppins. We had the girls call them right before we walked into the theater building. The joy and excitement in the girls voices on the random February day resonated with my parents. Now they are pretty much open to any alternative suggestion we offer!

Be sure to check out the five gift suggestions below.

Let’s chat in the comments. What non-traditional gift would you add to this list?



1. Suggest a monthly educational activity/craft subscription

Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to try out Kiwi Crates with the girls. Kiwi Crate offers 2 to 3 hands-on fun activities and project revolving around art, science, games (and more) AND all within a little green kit that gets delivered right to your doorstep. The photos below showcase the response a new kit elicits from my daughter month after month, but this is not why I recommend Kiwi Crate.

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

I adore Kiwi Crate because every single time my daughter busts open a new kit and starts working THIS happens:

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

I’ve learned to recognize this face when studying the Montessori Method. *Click here to read 3 Tips on Fostering Your Child’s Ability to Concentrate. THIS my friends, is the face of a child deeply engrossed and concentrating. Every time she opens a new Kiwi Crate I notice THIS face and how much she loves the projects (below).

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

And so I could ramble on and on about all the cool crafts and activities Kiwi Crate kits offer, like the Antarctic Adventure Crate (featured below), but . . .

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

What you really need to know from me is simply that Kiwi Create is kid-tested and mom approved. Plus your little ones will *love* getting snail mail! Check out all the details on the Kiwi Crate website:

If you have any questions about my personal experience with Kiwi Crate, please let me know in the comments. I am happy to chat with you.

Simple “Under the Tree” Gift Suggestions: View the Single Crates selections, for example…


UPDATE: This company now offers Tinker Crates (9-14 years old) and Doodle Crates (9-16+). They look AWESOME.


2. Suggest Giving a Zoo Pass or a Reciprocal Children’s Museum Pass

Consider getting a pass at a nearby zoo or children’s museum. Over 200 museums across the nation participate in the Association of Children’s Museum program, click here to find your state participants (PDF). Joining offers benefits such as:

  • Unlimited admission for the entire family to the museum all year (and reciprocal museums) **See site for details specific to your area**
  • Invitations to members’ events, exhibit openings, and special events
  • Discounts on education programs, activities, and field trips
  • Discounts at the museum store
  • Free or reduced parking

Simple “Under the Tree” Gift Suggestions:

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

Shop online: Play Set Balancing Scale | Junior Racer Track | Nesting Rainbow Blocks Stacker | Preschool Bee Hive


{Educational Gifts} *great list

Shop online: Rainbow Cone Sorting | Toy Nuts and Bolts | Geometric Sorting Peg Board | Puzzle Stacker | Color & Shape Sorting Board | See More Wood Educational Toys


3. Suggest Giving a National Geographic Kids Magazine Subscription

One year we received a subscription to National Geographic for Christmas. At the time the girls were four & six, so we got both National Geographic Little Kids (3-6 years-old) and National Geographic Kids (6+). They enjoyed each receiving their OWN magazine. The girls saved their issues and at the end of the year we donated the collection to their Montessori pre-school. The educational content and quality of the magazine made it a perfect upcycle!

Simple “Under the Tree” Gift Suggestions:    

National Geographic Kids Magazine Subscription *Under the tree gifts

Shop online: National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia | 12″ Emperor Mama And Baby Penguin | The Animal Book


4. Suggest Giving a Playful Learning Gift Certificate

Earlier this year I tried a Playful Learning eLesson with the girls. We loved it. The site offers a variety of self-guided online lessons and workshops that enrich and support school curriculum with fun, family learning activities. Each eLesson or workshop is tailored to children ages 4-12 where they can watch engaging videos and participate in hands-on projects. I would like to try the Family Writer’s Club workshop this winter with Rose.

Learn more about Playful Learning and see their full selection of eLessons and workshops here.

Simple “Under the Tree” Gift Suggestions:   
Starting a Writer's Notebook: Writing Activities For Kids *Items to give with eLesson

Shop online: Cavallini 4 x 5 Alphabet Notebooks | Pentel Ballpoint Pens | Whimsical Twig Pencils


5. Suggest Giving a Class

Consider giving the little artist in your life an art CLASS for the holidays. Before I had kids of my own, I signed up my niece to take a Pint Size Picasso class through our local Park and Rec program. We had a blast. Each week I’d come and pick her up, we’d paint like maniacs, and her parents had a chance to breathe.

Don’t be afraid to ask grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends if they’d be interested in spending some quality time with your child by taking them to a short weekly class. The key is to find something both parties are interested in attending. You might consider researching: a cooking class, LEGO clubs, ice skating, or even a commitment to do a few weekend trips to the library for read-aloud time!

Think Outside of the (GIFT) Box: 5 Unique Ideas

Simple “Under the Tree” Gift Suggestions:   


Shop online: Art Lab for Kids | 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set | 24 Soft Chalk Pastels Set | Melissa & Doug Picture Frame Pad

Let’s chat in the comments. What non-traditional gift would you add to this list?


Check out this post The Best Things in Life Aren’t THINGS, too.

{4 Alternative "Experience" Presents to Give Your Kids for Christmas} Great quote, "The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention." ~Richard Moss


Pin it:

5 Tips on Getting Relatives to Think Outside the (Gift) Box #Christmas #Kids

Let’s Lasso the Moon is proud to work with Kiwi Crate as a partner for growing curiosity & creativity. Click here to read my full disclaimer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, this blog only recommends products or services I would use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. Moira says

    Very interesting, Zina! My favorite is the Musical. A trip (short or long depending on the cost) may be a fantastic gift as well. We use to go to Christmas markets in December and buy a specific decoration for our tree. {let me thank Tiffany for this!}

  2. LetsLassotheMoon says

    We’d love to give a trip instead of gifts, too. Our schedule is always a complication. This year we are doing a long weekend right after Christmas to one of the nearby cities. While I’d like to go someplace more adventurous, the girls really don’t care where we go! They have fun anywhere. Anyhow, my point is … our adult definition of “vacation” is a lot more lofty than a kid’s version. :-)

  3. LetsLassotheMoon says

    Monica, I added a notation after reading your comment:
    **See site for details specific to your area**

    I agree, there is a lot of information to be covered. My primary audience is in the mid-west (where I am from) and we are lucky enough to get full coverage for all the museums in the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis area. I am not sure where you are from and if the pass would be worth it for you, but having it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family.

  4. catastropheimminent says

    I LOVE the trips and memberships as gifts! My 4.5 YO loves shuttle pens and journals. To her, the shuttle pens are magic. We also like record our own book-on-CD (in my voice), origami paper, scarves, and ribbon wands. You can even make the ribbon wands. Great ideas!

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