15 Christmas presents that are not toys

Christmas is fast approaching and many parents dread the commercial side of it: either because of the sheer amount of plastic  junk toys or the hair-raising bill attached to the wish lists. In my household toys (that we have our fair share of) sit in cupboards a lot of the time and tiny humans play with toilet rolls and shred things. With a little help from the internet, I’ve put together a list of options for presents that may help make Santa’s burden a little lighter – and in some cases the ecological footprint, too.

1. Memberships and subscriptions

Are you regulars at one of the indoor playgrounds? Do your kids love Jumpstreet? Fans of a certain magazine? Multi-pass to the nearest indoor playground? Get a subscription or a membership and enjoy the present for months to come.

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2. Culture

Cinema or theatre tickets work for all ages. Top up with popcorn or after-show-ice-cream.

3. Craft supplies

Inexpensive craft supplies make a great present. Or go crazy at the craft shop – check our list for places to get your crafty stuff in KL. Or something a bit more unusual, like these chalk t-shirts from Chalkapella.

4. Dress-up clothes

A present that is great for imagination! Good places to look are Mothercare, Spotlight and the fancy dress shop in Petaling Street.

5. Books

Whether it’s Christmas or birthdays, there should always be books. If you use the library or buy a lot of books, your kids may be like mine and not get overly excited about books as presents since the novelty factor is insignificant – in that case make sure that you go for what’s in at the moment. One the most loved presents for my son was an inexpensive, brick-like kids’ encyclopedia, and the latest part of their favourite book series is always a hit. Do not miss the Big Bad Wolf sale. Trust me, it’s so worth it. If you missed it or hate crowds, drive to Amcorp Mall and check out BookXcess, the shop behind the Wolf (they even have an online shop).

6. Sports equipment and outdoor stuff

Balls, hula hoops, racket games, stuff for the pool – gets them moving! Or maybe the cool mermaid tail that will turn heads.

7. Games

But only if you are prepared to play them. If not, go for puzzles.


8. Time keeping: clocks, watches, calculators, calendars

Useful, educational, good-looking – what else can we ask for?

9. Learning toys: telescope, microscope, science kits, camera

Spy equipment and magic sets tend to provide long-lasting entertainment, too.

10. Photo books and photo shoots

When my firstborn was a baby I made him a small, cheap photo book of his family, friends and favourite places – it was one of his favourite books that he chewed read to shreds. This year I ordered a book for each of my kids with photos of them and their friends – pictures that are probably important to them but may not make it to the family album. Photo books are obviously the favourite present for grandparents, too. A photo shoot with friends and props could go down well with teens.

11. Digital media

My kids are constantly bugging us for new games and apps but we try to keep them for long journeys or other special occasions. A voucher for new games would go down a treat. For teens it could be a voucher for iTunes, Kindle shop or whatever trendy platform they use, or an upgrade on their data package.

12. Trips

Were you planning a trip down to Legoland anyway? Wrap it up and Bob’s your uncle. There are lots of great places closer by that would be great for special family trips and not so costly: the Elephant Sactuary, Sunway Lagoon or maybe an adventure at FRIM with a picnic and a paddle afterwards.

13. Hobbies

Have they been bugging you about ballet classes or karate? Save it for Christmas and top it up with the necessary equipment and outfit.

14. Vouchers: pancake party with friends or a meal at their favourite fast food joint

Especially for the little ones pancake party type of stuff can be pretty cool. Invite your friends for a proper teddy-bear-tea-party or pancakes for all. It doesn’t need to expensive! Older kids could enjoy a meal out with their friends at their favourite hangout.

15. Give back

As suggested in the comments last year, we did put together a list of charitable causes in need of donations in cash and in kind for this year.

And finally: remember to check your credit card reward catalogue! The selection changes constantly and many offer vouchers too.


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5 Responses

  1. Yes, yes, yes – love this post! Some kids at our school have even decided that they don’t need gifts! Imagine that – six year olds who have said they have all that they need and have decided to plant trees, donate to food banks and give to charities instead. Now these kiddos have really captured the Christmas spirit.

    1. That’s just great! Someone should put together a list of ways of donating and supporting good causes in Malaysia – maybe we’ll do it next year!

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