Baby Carrot is entering her second holiday season this year, but at 18 months, she’s still young enough to not really understand the concept of holidays and gifts. Her closet is full of clothes thanks to a grandmother who loves to shop for her only granddaughter, and our living room has finally surrendered its last attempt at being an adult space and has been taken over by toys accumulated almost entirely through gifts over the past year and a half. The abundance of “stuff” is something that comes up often, and this year, gifts that don’t require storage space are on my and many wishlists. Here are some ideas for gifts that keep on giving, require no shelves or boxes to hide in, and are sure to satisfy everyone from tinys to teenagers.

Subscription boxes

As a mom who’s short on time, even shorter on space, and one that gets easily overwhelmed by all the brands and options of toys, food and other items for kids, monthly subscription boxes have been my go-to for discovering new products for Baby Carrot. A simple Google search for subscription boxes brings up a ton of options that work for all ages, and offer everything from toys to bath products to food, crafts and activities, and beyond. Some favorites include:

General Product Boxes:

These monthly or quarterly boxes include a wide range of kid-focused products, usually curated by age of the child. Some favorite companies include Citrus Lane (Ages 0-5), Googaro (Ages 0-3), and Bluum (0-4), and each box contains primarily full size items – usually a toy, a snack item, and some things for around the house, like dishes, snack pouches, bath products and beyond. It’s a great way to sample new products – we’ve found a lot of favorite snacks and everyday items, like Baby C’s favorite dish, through these subscriptions.


Task-Focused and Themed Boxes:

Kiwi Crate (ages 3-8): Kiwi Crate focuses on crafts kids can do around a specific theme, which varies every month. Boxes include all the materials, instructions and activities to create fun crafts. Sister companies Koala Crate, Tinker Crate and Doodle Crate focus on art, science and creativity projects for kids ages 3-16 and beyond.

Little Passports (ages 3-12): I hope to pass on my love of travel to Baby Carrot, and this subscription is already on my list for when she gets a bit older. The subscription starts with an introduction kit, which comes in a fun suitcase and includes activities, stickers and an introduction to the characters who are “traveling,” and each month, kids get to explore a new country with activities, online games and beyond. Cultured Owl is another option for a budding traveler that allows a more in-depth exploration of another culture.

Little Pnuts (ages 0-6) : This quarterly subscription box provides kiddos with new toys to try out. Toys are selected by age and gender, and the service prides itself on being environmentally friendly and focused on encouraging age appropriate development and learning. None of the toys are battery operated and tend to be from brands that don’t often appear in retail stores.


Gymboree has been a lifesaver in our house once Baby Carrot became mobile and made it clear that she requires a lot of physical activity. Unfortunately Gymboree is also pretty pricey, so one of the things on our wish list are gift certificates to offset the cost of the classes and open play time she loves so much (or even try on additional classes as her interests expand). Gift certificates or bundles of lessons make a great gift for kids of all ages – from local community centers offering everything from swim lessons to art, to private franchises like Gymboree, to sports and music and beyond.


Depending on what the kids (and parents) are into, there are usually memberships that can be gifted to enjoy throughout the year. For example, here in Washington D.C., the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) membership is a must have for anyone with kids. Although the zoo itself is free to everyone, a FONZ membership gives members free parking (a major premium in a busy urban area that the zoo is located in), access to exclusive events and activities, discounted stroller rentals and more. Memberships to children’s museums, parks, entertainment venues, community centers and other facilities that require admission or cost make a great gift without the clutter.


Is the circus coming to town next year? A kid’s favorite band or sports team? Is there a theme park nearby that may make a fun outing next summer? Tickets to one time events or ongoing activities also make a great gift for all ages, even if the event is months in advance. Something to look forward to year round and a great way to remember the holidays later in the year!


If a family has a big (or little) trip planned for next year, or if there’s a fun event to build around, like kiddos starting school, adding a gift to the fun is almost always a winner. Excursions that someone may not have thought of or is able to afford make for some of the best gifts, especially ones that focus on kids. Care packages on the theme, like sunblock, sand toys and swim gear, even if the trip is months away. Gifting a “special day” to a child, be it around a special occasion or just because, that involves their favorite activities, or focuses on preparing for an event (like selecting a new backpack and filling it with school supplies), is always a hit, and the “stuff” is stuff that’s needed anyway.

What other “non stuff” gifts have you found to be popular?