How to Pull Off a Magical No Toy Christmas

GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!
GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!
GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!

I never dreamed I’d be writing a post on a kids “no toy” Christmas.

Ok, that’s kind of a lie. If you’ve read our debate on ‘If Christmas Presents for Toddlers Can Be a Bad Thing’, you know I’ve always held a less-toy stance.

But let me tell you, last year had be convinced.

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I got both of my kids one toy from Santa.  My son had been really into the VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels sets. So I bought him this cute remote-controlled car that would work with his existing sets.

I decided to find every single piece of the sets we have and assemble them back to the original design. Then on Christmas Eve, I arranged them all over the living room.

While I was out it, I decided to assemble and configure lots of their toy sets around the room. I blew up our huge, inflatable T-Rex and gave him a Santa hat, put together the wooden train set and set it up ready for play, and found every missing utensil from the play kitchen.

GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!
Santa Jo setting up the living room

When I was done, the room looked like a toy store.

Our usual custom is to make the kids put away a toy set before getting out new activity. This helps keep the clutter to a minimum.

Related  Busy Mom Hacks: 10 Tricks for Keeping a Spotless House

Fast forward to Christmas morning, my kids freaked out when they saw the toys all over the living room.

Squealing with delight, they excitedly raced in and started playing with their nicely set up toys.

My husband and I watched them for a few minutes before gently reminding them Santa had brought them new toys.

GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!
Note Toddler #1 opening present, Toddler #2 is still playing with other toys

After they eventually opened the gifts, they were excited with the new toys… for maybe three seconds.

Then they went back to playing with their old toys!

And the poor, new toys were cast aside and forgotten.

GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!
Poor, neglected new toy

There were just so many things going on in the room. Their attention kept switching from one toy to another.

My kids were elated, and the fact is it has absolutely nothing to do with the new toys.

So this year? I’m sticking with just one present from Santa.

Related  The Best Ways to Survive Crazy Christmas Schedules With Your Toddler
Related  Are Christmas Decorations Worth It When You Have A Toddler?


Benefits of a No Toy Christmas (or “Less Toy” Christmas)

There are many reasons why you might choose to go easy on the toys this year.

1 |  Let’s start with the basics, less toys = less $$$.
There is no doubt that you can easily blow your budget Christmas shopping, so consider saving the money instead.

2 |  Encourage children to focus on non-material aspects of Christmas
If your main Christmas goal is to teach Children about faith and giving, you may not want to distract them with lots of presents.

3 |  Prevent excess toy clutter
If you’re not careful, large amount of toys can start to invade your home and make it look messy.

The BEST Ways to Survive Crazy Christmas Schedules With your Toddler

Keep the Magical Christmas Spirit

For many of us, lots of Christmas presents is all we know! So how can you still get that Christmas “wow factor” without all the gifts around the tree?

Don’t worry, here are some ways you can make a kid’s no toy Christmas morning feel completely magical:

  • Wake up to stockings
    On Christmas morning, let your kids wake up to their stuffed Christmas stocking in their bed (or maybe on their door handle). We stuff ours with food (orange, apple, nuts, crackers, raisins, etc.), stickers, a coloring book, and crayons.
    This is great because it’s a win-win. Kids are immediately excited upon waking up and finding the goodies. But even better, it gives you a few more precious minutes of sleep while they explore.
  • Transform the play area into a kids paradise
    As I described above, spend the time to arrange their existing toys all over your living room (or the space when you’ve placed the Christmas tree)
  • Create a smash wall
    After you’ve set up the living room, make a barrier in the hallway out of crepe paper and decorations. When you’ve given the go ahead, the kids can smash through the wall and enter into the Christmas wonderland.

**Bonus** this also prevents sneaky toddlers from peeking.

  • Crank those holiday jams
    There’s something so special about Christmas music on the 25th itself. Bust out those classics for some background music. Make sure you play “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” – that’s guaranteed to get some adorable holiday giggles.
  • Ditch the schedule
    Most mornings, whether it be for work, church, or some other weekend activity, we have a strict timeline for showers, breakfast, getting dressed, etc. Don’t make any plans on Christmas morning so you can let the kids run the show.
    If they want to play for an hour before eating, let them. Or maybe they prefer to stay in PJs all morning. Whatever it is, roll with it on Christmas.
  • Have a special Christmas breakfast
    When those tiny tummies start rumbling, make sure you have a special Christmas breakfast planned. Think pancakes in the shape of snowmen, cinnamon rolls with festive sprinkles, or red/green fruit salad with strawberries and grapes.
  • Make it snow
    This one takes a bit of pre-planning, but it’s worth it. In the days/weeks leading up to Christmas, make paper snowflakes with your children. When Christmas morning comes, decorate the kitchen (or another space) with the snowflakes hanging on the wall or from the ceiling.


GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!

Non-Toy Gift Ideas

I am still planning on “Santa” giving my kids a gift to open on Christmas morning, but that doesn’t have to be a toy!

Here are lots of non-toy gift ideas to help inspire your holiday giving:

Related  The 20 Best STEM Gift Ideas for Smart Babies and Toddlers

Kids Magazine Subscription

Kids LOVE getting mail. Plus, the benefit of a subscription is that it keeps on giving in the months to come.

Two great magazine options for kids are Highlights and Zoobooks.

Highlights magazine is recommended for kids aged 6 and up. For the younger audience, they have High Five specifically designed for kids 2-6 years old.

120x90 Zoobooks for Zootles

Zoobies (made by Zoobooks, remember Ranger Rick??) is a magazine designed for ages 3 and under! Once you go to the Zoobies page, you can choose either a subscription (I believe the current one is about giraffes) or stand-alone, educational board books.

The Zoobies subscription comes bimonthly and contains: lift-the-flap features, beautiful photography and illustrations, and educational concepts like colors and shapes – all contained on durable pages (baby/toddler proof!).

Or, if your child is a little older, they also have the Zootles line of books and subscription options. The recommended age for Zootles is 3 to 6 years of age.



I know, I know. A stuffed bear is technically a toy – but hear me out.

The Build-A-Bear Workshop is really more of an experience.

They pick out the bear, warm their heart, dress them, and stuff them. They form a personalized bond!

My kids LOVE their Build-A-Bears and still remember when they created them.

So consider getting a voucher for the experience on a later date but presenting it at Christmas.

Create an Early Love of Cooking

Get a combo set of kids cooking utensils, a small apron, and a young beginner’s cookbook!

They love helping out in the kitchen anyway, so give them the tools they need to get the job done.

I really love The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, and it’s very highly rated on Amazon. A Merry Christmas Cookbook is also neat because it’s holiday themed.



More Practical Gifts

Kids Watch


Fun Utensils for Eating (my kids LOVE the Lego ones)

Kid-sized Umbrella

Dinner Placemat


A Cool Flashlight

Kidnoculars (pssst… we also recommended this in The 20 Best STEM Gift Ideas for Smart Babies and Toddlers)

Personalized Children's Books. Click here!

Personalized Books

All kids LOVE seeing their names in print, so get them a personalized book!

i See Me! is a great option for this.  They offer high quality products that have been featured nationally in People, In Touch and Parents magazines as unique gifts for newborns and young children.

One really cool book they have is My Very Own World Adventure.

In this book, your child rides a magic carpet around the world.  Your child’s first and last names are spelled out letter-by-letter according to the countries that your child visits – J for Japan, etc. This adventurous, personalized book was illustrated by 63 artists from around the world!

Plus, they usually offer FREE SHIPPING on orders $60 or more.

GREAT Ideas for a No Toy Christmas (or even just less toys). No just gift ideas, but fun Christmas morning activities too!

Other Books

Books are always a huge hit. Consider one or two Christmas-themed books and then a few that work year round.

Some of our favorites are:


Big Gift Ideas

Step2 Game Time Sports Climber And Slide


Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center

KidKraft Play Kitchen

Toddler/Kids Bike


Jo discussesSee? There you have it.

These are easy steps to create a perfectly magical Christmas whether you have zero, one, or a million gifts.

We’ve got TONS to say about Christmas – before you go, you should definitely Read THIS Before You Give Your Child a Christmas Cookie.

About Author


Hi, I’m Jo!

I have two small children, Ry and Lily, only 19 months apart. It’s usually crazy around my house, but thankfully my wonderful husband is around a ton and helps keep the peace.

I also own my own business and work full-time. I’d love to list all these amazing hobbies I have, but honestly I can barely handle keeping the kids entertained, the house clean, and food on the table. Although on days I’m too tired to do housework, I love to pour a glass of wine and watch Supernatural or Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix.

My husband and I like to stay very busy and drag our kids everywhere with us. Weekends often include relaxing at wineries, festivals, exploring Washington D.C. and other short getaway trips.


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