This list of frugal non-toy gifts for kids ages 5-12 is full of ideas that are educational, inspire creativity or are just fun and practical. They’re perfect for birthdays, Christmas gifts or any other special occasion!
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My frugal gift guides have been some of the most popular posts on my site.
And since you seemed to especially enjoy my 50 Awesome Cheap Gifts for Kids that Cost $10 or Less, I thought I’d compile a similar list, but this time exclusively for non-toy items that are perfect for kids ages 5 to 12.
I’m not opposed to toys- in fact we still actually occasionally gift them. But I’m finding myself gravitating towards non-toy gifts more and more because they tend to usually be gifts that are educational, inspire creativity or are simply useful and practical.
And I’ve also noticed that as a general rule, my kids end up using them and enjoying them more than most toys.
Whether you are looking for kid’s birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, or gifts for some other special occasion, I hope that this list will help you find something that won’t cost a lot, yet provides lots of happiness and fun for the child you are gifting it to.
Disclaimer: Amazon prices are subject to change at any time and I obviously have no control over that. But all of these items were $35 or less when I published this post and should hopefully stay close to that amount, allowing you to still get fun gifts without paying a lot. 🙂
40 Cheap Non-Toy Gifts for Kids that Cost $35 or Less
4. Bean Bag
Have a stuffed animal-loving child? This bean bag will help organize their collection while also giving them a fun place to sit!
5. Sleeping Bag
From sleepovers to camping to building forts- having your own sleeping bag is just great!
More Non-Toy Gift Ideas
You know how kids love small cozy spaces? A teepee is the perfect way to give them that!
Kids love these sequin pillows! Our 7-year-old daughter received one as a gift and her older brother and younger sister are always trying to sneak it to play with it!
Not into the sequins but have a sports fan? Try a sports theme pillow!
9. State Quarter Map
Our son started collecting state quarters when he was 8 and loved having a map to put them into! It gave him a fun hobby while also creating a keepsake that he can enjoy for years.
Solve the problem of your kids always asking to play with your phone/camera by getting them a camera one of their own. They’ll love being able to take pictures of everything that they think is noteworthy!
If you’re buying for an older kid this one is a bit more than $35, but still inexpensive and has good reviews.
Our kids love grabbing their umbrellas and walking outside when it rains! And I like how this one is clear, making it easy to see where you are walking.
12. Garden Tools
Want to encourage your child’s interest in gardening? This 4 piece garden tool set is perfect! They’ll provide hours of fun in the sun.
13. Bird Feeder
This is such a fun bird feeder and allows for close-up observation, which is so fun!
14. Ant Habitat
This ant habitat will give kids the chance to learn about and observe the habits of ants up close! We had an ant habitat in our classroom at school when I was in 3rd grade and I remember how fascinating it was to watch the ants work.
15. Fishing Pole
Everything they’ll need for hours of fishing fun!
More Practical Non-Toy Gifts for Kids
There’s something about being able to zoom in and see something up close that is just intriguing to kids!
I remember playing with my grandparent’s binoculars often as a child and thinking they were the coolest thing. And now my own kids love using ours to look at wildlife or just to get a close-up view of something.
17. Tool Set
Real tools, just kid-sized! The perfect starter set for any child.
18. Metal Detector
If you have a child who loves to look for treasures, this handheld metal detector is the perfect thing!
20. Weaving Loom
This loom will help your kids learn how to weave scarves, hot pads, coasters, bags and more!
More Budget Friendly Non-Toy Gifs for Kids
21. Slime Kit
If you have a slime-loving child, they will love this and it should provide hours of creative play!
22. Gem Stone Dig Kit
If you have a kid who is into rocks or gems, this kit with 15 real gems that you have to “mine” will be a big hit!
We got one of these and all four of our children really enjoyed it.
23. Snap Circuits
This engaging kit will help kids develop problem-solving skills and learn all about electrical circuits at the same time! Rave reviews from parents and kids alike!
25. Kiwi Co. Subscription Box
My kids have loved the Kiwi Co. boxes that we’ve done! Not only is it exciting for them to get something in the mail, but they also have the fun of getting to do hands-on art or STEAM projects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).
To stay within the $35 limit, you will need to choose a one-month subscription. However, Kiwi Co. runs sales semi-frequently which would allow you to get more than one month for that price.
More Non-Toy Gifts that Inspire Creativity
We’re big fans of audiobooks! They’re great for listening to on trips but my kids also enjoy listening to them while working, putting a puzzle together or just to relax.
Relatively easy to learn, the recorder is a great musical instrument for kids! And if you are brave enough to put up with the noise of someone learning, it’s a fun gift idea.
Add this Easy Recorder Tunes for Beginners to help get them started playing.
Our kids love pretending to play this ukulele! And if we knew what we were doing, they could actually play it too, since it is tuneable. It’s durable and has held up to lots of use (and abuse!) without any problems.
If you have an older child who is really interested in learning the instrument, this mahogany wood ukulele might be a better option.
29. Portable CD Player
Earlier this year my mother-in-law gave our kids a couple of old portable CD players that they had lying around and I was amazed at what a hit they were! The kids love to curl up and listen to their favorite story or music CD, and I like that I don’t have to deal with one more thing making noise!
Depending on what you want to use them for, a portable boom box might be a better option. Either way, I think they’ll be a hit!
More of the Best Non-Toy Gifts for Kids
I haven’t met a kid yet who hasn’t loved walkie-talkies! I say skip the children’s sets and go with this better quality one that will work well.
33. Tracing Pad
Have a child that is into drawing and art? This tracing pad makes it easy for them to trace their favorite pictures and get experience “drawing”.
34. Buddha Board
This board allows you to “paint” with just water and is perfect for any kid who loves to doodle since the drawings soon disappear. It’s all fun of painting without all the mess that typically accompanies it!
More Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Boys and Girls
This cookbook with 50 easy-to-follow recipes that include step-by-step photos is perfect for any kid that loves being in the kitchen!
If you’d prefer one that focuses on cooking rather than baking, try this Cooking Class one. And then look forward to being able to enjoy sampling all of the amazing treats!
37. Kid-Friendly Knife
Have a young child that is interested in cooking? This kid-friendly set will allow them to safely join in with meal prep. Pair it with this kid’s knife skills class for a really awesome gift that will teach them skills that will last a lifetime!
These personalized stainless steel mugs are just adorable! I love that they are pretty much impossible to break- especially perfect for young kiddos.
If you’re buying for an older child and want more of a traditional mug that is still unique this dinosaur mug or this football mug are great options. Pair them with some gourmet hot chocolate for extra fun.
39. Toiletry Bag
It’s always exciting to have your own grown-up kind of things! And if your child does sleepovers, goes to summer camp or even if you just travel semi-frequently, a personal toiletry bag comes in very handy! You could even add in a few toiletries to make it extra special.
Buying for a boy? These guy-ish prints are perfect.
Give the gift of learning a life skill with a kid’s cooking class! Kids Cook Real Food offers a variety of cooking classes for kids of all ages and while some of them cost a bit more than $35, they are still a great value!
My 9-year-old daughter is currently working through the Kids Cook Solo class and is loving it! She is learning a lot and I appreciate the fact that she can do the class with very little input or time from me.
Looking for other cheap gift ideas? Check these out.
- 50 Awesome Cheap Kid’s Gifts that Cost $10 or Less
- 50 MORE Awesome Cheap Kid’s Gifts that Cost $10 or Less
- 40 Frugal Gifts for Women that Cost $30 or Less
- 30 Frugal Kitchen Gifts that Cost $21 or Less
- 40 Frugal Gifts for Men that Cost $30 or Less
- 25 Frugal Family Gifts that Cost $45 or Less
- 15 Fun Inexpensive Teacher Gifts
- 20 Inexpensive Homemade Gift Ideas
- 20 Inexpensive Homemade Gifts for Kids