I love this article from Parents.com. My kids don't need anything. They didn't really play with toys, so when I'd buy them toys for presents, they'd open them, take a look, say thanks and maybe play with them one time.
I bought him this. He pretty much ignored it, but when his friends come over I think they play with it a little bit.
I had one of these when I was a kid and I loved it, so he got one for Christmas a few years ago. Again, ignored.
But the biggest "bust" was this one. You turn the knobs on the sides which tilts the surface so you can roll the steel ball around and try to avoid the holes. He didn't get it, he didn't care about it and I think he tried it once. Which bummed me out cuz I loved this when I was a kid.
So parents.com gets it and they came up with a list of 13 gifts that aren't toys. For example:
A Subscription Box
Sign up for a one-time or monthly kids' subscription box (think Kiwi Crate for little crafters, KidStir, for cooks, or Tinker Crate for STEM). They'll have the fun of getting a package in the mail, plus a cool activity do.
Music lessons can be pricey, so giving one—or a series—of lessons can be a real gift not just for the child but for his or her parent, too! For wee ones, consider gifting a mommy-baby music class.