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Gift Ideas NOT From a Store


As a new mom, part of me is dreading the accumulation of stuff that comes with having kids. We currently live in a two bedroom condo that doesn’t have much of room for storage. Ideally, my husband would love if all of her toys fit in our coffee table/ottoman. We were thankful to get all the baby necessities as gifts from our registry and managed to only spend $150 of our own money to prepare for Nora’s arrival. Now I feel our new challenge is to think of kind ways to tell people we don’t need more stuff!

If you’re planning to get a gift idea for a friend or family member, I recommend considering their lifestyle. Some folks love having a basement full of toys and have the space for it. In our case, we enjoy simplicity and appreciate gifts of experience more than the usual store-bought gifts. I’ve listed some examples below of gifts we’ve either given or received that don’t come from the store. Some apply to kids but are still great ideas for adults since hey, at what age do you stop enjoying fun stuff?

529 plan/ college savings

This is ideal for those with young kids who don’t even know what a toy is yet.

Recreational activities

Groupon is a great resource for finding offers for all sorts of recreational gifts.
– Rock wall climbing
– Laser Tag
– Shooting Range (I got lessons for my parents as their Christmas gift last year!)
– Relaxing massage
– Beer brewing basics class
– Cooking class
– Wine tasting

Use your talents (or Pinterest)

My grandma crochets and made us blankets for a wedding gift and baby shower gift. My sister found an easy quilt pattern on Pinterest and made a blanket for Nora. My aunt sewed her own version of a play mat for Nora. I also had two artsy friends contribute to the décor in Nora’s room with a painting and 4 frames that each had a letter to spell Nora.

Themed gifts

Technically these would be store-bought but there’s a creative spin to it. In a storage bin (or appropriate storage container) you would add various items that go with the theme. For example:

– Movie theme: popcorn, a gift card to a movie theater or a classic movie, milk duds, and a bottle of wine.
– Beach theme that includes a towel, sunscreen, fun sunglasses, a CD with your favorite summertime tunes, a blow-up beach ball, flip flops, and a fun drink (a few bottles of a unique beer for adults or Capri suns for a kid).


I’ve seen some popular subscription options these days. Stitch Fix sends you five hand-picked clothing items once a month based on the style profile you provide and you can choose to buy whichever you want. A Birch Box subscription sends a box of sample size beauty products so you can try new items. Barkbox is the same thing but for dogs of course! There are plenty of other subscription ideas you can try like beer, wine, or tea-of-the-month clubs.

With a little planning ahead you can get creative with your gift giving without having to be a creative person! Store bought gifts are still a kind gesture but if you’re stuck in a rut trying to come up with a gift idea I suggest you try one of these options.

What is your favorite gift you’ve either given or received?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’ve always appreciated going out to dinner or a recreational activity over materialistic items.
    Experiences create memories that a pair of shoes doesn’t.

    • I enjoy experiences much more than gifts as well. Going for a walk is so much better than getting some trinket that I will never use. The only bonus is if the gift can be used for recreation – like a fishing pole, or running shoes. 🙂

    • Exactly! I’ve gone to some restaurants I probably wouldn’t have thought to try out thanks to a gift card from a family member.

  2. At our baby shower, attendees were asked to bring either diapers or wipes. Both came in very handy and have us a 2-3 month supply head start.

    • I love that idea especially since diaper costs add up with the amount you go through. Diaper parties seem to be a popular thing to have instead of traditional registries or getting toys & clothes.

  3. Our four kids have rooms full of toys they no longer play with. We sell them at garage sales and the rooms get replenished by well-meaning family members at the next birthday or at Christmas time. I’d much rather have money contributed to them or do something with them to create memories. They really do need very few toys…especially the kind that makes constant noise. 🙂

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