Dear Family and Friends: No More Toys, PLEASE!!!


I’m sure most of us could find a few items in our homes that haven’t been touched since December 26, 2016. Or toys that haven’t been played with since they were unwrapped on Christmas Day. Or, even worse, toys still in the box and never touched at all. Christmas is around the corner, and the thought of more toys coming into our home can feel overwhelming. 

I know we all have well-intentioned family and friends who want to give our children something to celebrate the season. I appreciate their giving spirit and love that they want to share that with my kids. If you find yourself in the same situation, here are 10 gift ideas that will not add any clutter to your house!


Most kids love to go places and see things! Memberships to the Birmingham Zoo, McWane Science Center, and Alabama Splash Adventure are gifts that keep on giving! Imagine how great it will be during spring break or over the summer when you need to get the kids out of the house but don’t want to spend a ton of money. If you have one of these memberships, your day becomes much easier! 

Classes and Lessons

Are your kids in extra-curricular activities? It’s awesome when your child shows interest in a certain pursuit! Whether it’s music lessons, STEAM camp, dance class, or Scouts, there is something for everyone … and all of these things cost money. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa can provide a “scholarship” for a month’s worth of lessons this year!

Family Photos

A session with a local photographer is such a special treat, and the pictures will be treasured forever! With all of the normal family expenses, photos can be one of the things that families aren’t able to do regularly. How great would it be to receive a session as a gift for your whole family? These photos will be a true keepsake and something that you appreciate forever!

Summer Camp

Do your kids attend summer camps? There are many local day camps for all ages and overnight camps away from home for the older ones. Summer camp is so fun and memorable! However, tuition can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one child or if you are a working mom and need to find something to fill each week of the summer break. What camp is your child excited to attend? Ask for help with that one and promise Aunt Jane an extra drawing or postcard from camp that week!

Sporting Events

Sometimes it seems like the South revolves around college football. Even though football season is coming to a close, there are a ton of sporting events nearby! Think basketball, gymnastics, and baseball. If you cheer for Alabama or Auburn, the games are a short drive from home. Or you can stay in town a catch a game at UAB or see the Barons play at Regions Field. Or maybe even hop over to Atlanta for a Braves game! This is fun for your whole family and will be especially entertaining for your budding athlete!

Special Events

Take one look at the BJCC web site and you will see all the amazing things to do this spring in Birmingham! From The Lion King to the Brickfair Lego Expo to Dancing With the Stars Live to WWE Smackdown, there is something for everyone! Make it a fun family outing and grab dinner before or after in Uptown!

Day Dates

There are so many fun things to do with kids around Birmingham! And how much fun would your child have getting some valuable one-on-one time with their favorite aunt or uncle? Some fun things they can do together are Top Golf, a trampoline park (like Surge and Urban Air), mini-golf and a movie at Coyote Drive In, or ice skating at the Pelham Civic Center. Older girls would especially love a ladies’ lunch and a pedicure!

Coupon Books

Some of my fondest memories as a child are doing something “normal” with my parents or grandparents. A simple game of Uno or painting each other’s nails can turn into a lifelong memory. Kids love to spend time with friends and family, so a coupon book for different activities would be a special gift! Ideas for coupons are popcorn and movie date at home, 30 minutes of one-on-one time, and cooking breakfast together! The options for this are endless!

Day Trips

Do your kids like a short road trip? Maybe someone can give them a special day trip to do something fun! There are so many things to do in Atlanta Six Flags over Georgia, American Girl, LEGOLAND, the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and more. Huntsville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Callaway Gardens are also a short drive away and full of fun activities for the whole family!

College Money

This may not be very exciting to your kids right now, but it will be a gift they appreciate later in life when they don’t have huge student loans. Set up a savings or 529 account in your child’s name and ask grandparents to contribute a little each Christmas and birthday. It’s fun for everyone to watch the money grow!

What are some of your favorite gifts to give? I would love to hear your gift ideas in the comments!