November 25, 2014

Top 30 Toy Alternative Gifts for the Minnesota Child!

Last week Non-Toy Gifts asked me to guest post on their (awesome) blog and I couldn't refuse! Non-Toy Gifts is dedicated to finding awesome alternatives to toys for kids who may simply just have too many toys, or just need a different way to celebrate milestones like birthdays and holidays! I decided to create a post that would be as helpful to their readers as to mine! :)

You guys know me, I love toys. I think kids learn SO much from playing with toys and being left to their own devices, but I also am a believer in hands on activities and venturing out into the big world! I love to take the kiddos out to various MN Tot Spots and keeping busy with various Tot Activities, so I thought I would compile my own list of toy alternative gifts for this upcoming Christmas!

1. Zoo passes or a year membership! In Minnesota we have the amazing Minnesota Zoo, of course, which goes around all year. Como is free, so you could create Zoo Coupons to give the kids!
2. Museum membership. We have a few different museums here that offer membership, including the Children's Museum, The Works, and The Science Museum. All of these places have children sections and tons to offer the kids year round. (Check out my MN Tot Spots to see which places offer Toddler days.)
3. Passes to Sea Life at Mall of America. You could get a membership, or just purchase passes for future visits!
4. Passes to Nickelodeon Universe. They also have a special pass for younger children, ad discounts on Toddler Tuesdays!
5. Coupon to take your special girl on a date at The American Girl Store.
6. Passes for your little diva to go through Barbie's Dreamhouse at MOA. (Remember to check out our post on it for tons more pictures!)
7. Future passes to Valley Fair in Shakopee!
8. Gift certificates for movies at AMC theaters! They don't expire so your child can use them for any movies they wish! Last year Noelle went to her first movie, Frozen, and we had such a wonderful mommy/daughter date. I am so excited to take Noelle to see Disney's new live action Cinderella this March! We have watched the trailer about 5 times now!
9. Passes to go bowling! Kids love cosmic bowling, when they turn off all the lights and have the black lights going with the neon colors!
10. Passes to go swimming at your local community center! Pay attention for special events at the community centers too. For example a couple weeks ago the Shoreview Community Center had a Frozen dive in!
11. Passes or membership at our local theaters! Check out Children's Theater Company (they are doing How the Grinch Stole Christmas right now), the Guthrie, Chanhassen (they have an amazing The Little Mermaid show), Stages (formally known as Childs Play Theater, is doing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer right now), etc. 
12. Passes to go see future sporting events for your little athletes or sport lovers!
13. DISNEY ON ICE. Do I need to say more?
14. Tickets to go see the circus! They come around each year and tickets aren't very expensive! Coupons seem to float around a lot too when they are in town! If you can't get tickets in advance, make coupons for your kids that promise to take them when the circus is in town!
15. Coupons for horse rides! Or even horse riding lessons!
16. Train rides! There are many places that do them in northern Minnesota and some have special Thomas the Engine days! Choo Choo Bob's in St. Paul usually has postings on upcoming train events all the time!
17. Ice cream vouchers. (Think certificates to Dairy Queen, the local ice cream shop, or go all out and get one from Izzy's! At Izzy's you can get a tour of the shop (see behind the scenes how they make their flavors)! If you are going to check out Izzy's, you may as well hope on next door to Choo Choo Bob's! :) Two fun things in one place!
18. Special coupons for your children to go out to any restaurant of their choosing. Great way to have a family date!
19. Coupons for Chuck E. Cheese. I have read of people getting the tokens ahead of time to wrap so the kids still had something to open, plus how exciting to get the tokens...that means, you will for sure be going!
20. Gift certificate to the nail salon for your divas! Many places are starting to sport mini pedicure massage chairs featuring Hello Kitty, butterflies, etc. This is a nice little mommy/daughter date, and it won't break the bank. (Kids get nails done for $5 pretty much every where.)
21. Lessons! Give the gift of learning with swimming lessons, gymnastics, dance, karate, a musical instrument, a craft like painting or pottery, a music class, etc. Heartfelt  in South Minneapolis offers really unique classes even for the smallest artist! (They have toddler classes and preschool age classes weekly!)
22. Books! Or Barnes and Noble gift card so they can go pick out their own books!
23. Classic board games! These never get old and the whole family can play.
24. DVDs. Think classics like Disney movies, or TV series (no commercials for toys!) or educational DVDs.
25. Kits. They make kits like craft kits (you can get so many different ideas from browsing the art section at Target or Wal-Mart), science kits, planting flower pot kits, etc. 
26. Art supplies and materials! I have gotten many kids that I nanny kits that included glue sticks, pom poms, stickers, googly eyes, etc. 
27. Educational apps they can play on their tablets/phones.
28. Future passes or membership to indoor playgrounds, like Eagle's Nest, or Edinborough! This would also work with indoor trampoline parks (SkyZone) and indoor inflatable parks (Monkey House)!
29. Gift certificates for future play times at Kiddywampus! (They also offer awesome art classes and camps.)
30. A gift certificate or coupon for a future date at Paint Your Plate, where your kids can paint their own plates, mugs, and bowls!

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on gifts that are non-toys!! :) 


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