10 Gift Ideas For Kids – That Are NOT Toys

I don’t know about your house, but my house has way too many stuffed animals hiding in beds and in closets, as well as un-played with plastic toys and small knick-knacky toys hiding under furniture. Every Christmas I try and come up with non-toy gifts that I know my daughter, as well as other kids we buy gifts for, will love. With that in mind, here are some fun gift ideas for kids – that are not toys!

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1)   Magazine Subscriptions

Whether the child is a nature-lover, crafty kid or likes quick facts, magazines such as Highlight, WILD Kids Magazine, Chirp and OWL are perfect for kids. They are quick reads, full of colourful pictures, and usually have many facts and puzzles.

2)   Books

Whether they are early, emerging or advanced readers, books make great gifts for kids of all ages! And if you’re unsure what kinds of books a child may want, a gift card for a local bookstore works just as well. AND if the child is not a reader – what about a notebook and artistic pencils or pencil crayons? Or a fact or joke book?

3)   Science Kits

Local stores such as Tag Along Toys offer many fun and educational science kits for kids of all ages! From creating candy to making your own soap, building a volcano to making batteries out of potatoes, science kids are always a hit for the inquisitive kid who likes to learn how things are made and how things work.

4)   Museum passes

Ottawa is lucky to have so many fun and engaging museums! Whether you decide on a 3-in-1 museum pass, a pass to the Canadian Museum of History or the Canadian Museum of Nature, you are giving kids a gift that will keep on giving (and a place to see and things to do all year long!).

5)   Movie passes or a movie date

If the kids in your life love movies, why not give them a gift card to the movie theatre! This time of year, Cineplex Odeon has a great deal on $40 gift certificates that includes coupons for lots of free stuff, such as popcorn! You could also create a coupon that promises them a movie date (complete with popcorn, of course).

6)   Sleeping bag or an “overnight bag”

If you’re a grandparent, aunt, uncle or Godparent, the gift of a sleeping bag or overnight bag filled with everything kids need to make a sleepover comfortable and fun is usually unexpected – and knowing that it comes with a sleepover with their favourite people makes it fun and something to look forward to long after it is unwrapped! You can have a lot of fun building this gift by including travel games, travel towels, treats, etc.

7)   Blanket or pillow with a picture on it

Think about what your kids love to do, who they adore or if you have pets – think of how incredible it would be for them to have a blanket or pillow to cuddle with that on it! Photo blankets and photo pillows are a unique, personal gift that can be purchased from the comfort of your home computer and is sure to be a hit for kids of all ages. 

8)   A butterfly or bat House kit

If your kid is a nature lover then these kits that can be found at Lee Valley Tools or Home Depot are sure to be a hit. They can spend the winter building and decorating them as well as researching and thinking of a good place to put them come spring.

9)   Fun socks or pajamas

It’s a well-known fact that many kids don’t get excited when they receive clothes as gifts, so why not put a spin on it and find some funky socks or pajamas! One year we bought my daughter knee-high narwhal socks that continue to be a hit (holes and all).

10)  Kitchen tools

I am all about getting kids involved in the kitchen, so why not invest in some kid-safe kitchen tools so they can help you bake and cook! You can even make copies of some of their favourite recipes and create their very own personalized cookbook!

What not-toy gifts do you enjoy giving the kids in your life? We’d love to know!

Ottawa Remembrance Day Ceremonies

Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday this year, which means it's a great opportunity to find a ceremony or parade to attend as a family. There are also events taking place before Remembrance Day. Here is a list of Remembrance Day events and ceremonies in Ottawa:

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Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill

On Parliament Hill from now until November 11th over 100,000 falling poppies will be projected onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block. The virtual Poppy Drop is presented by the Royal Canadian Legion. There is one poppy for each of Canada’s fallen.

Ceremonies on November 11, 2017

The City of Ottawa has published the following list of parades and ceremonies going on across the city. For full details, please visit the City of Ottawa website by clicking here.

  • Beechwood Cemetery - 10:30 a.m. to noon. Taking place at the National Military Cemetery on the grounds of Beechwood Cemetery, this ceremony honours all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery. There will also be a performance by the children’s choir. 
  • Bells Corners – 10:30 to 12:30 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Bells Corners Branch 593).
  • Eastview/Vanier – 1:30 to 3 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Eastview Branch 462), north on Cyr Avenue between the Royal Canadian Legion (294 Cyr Avenue) and Montreal Road, east on Montreal Road between Cyr Avenue and Hannah Street, and north on Hannah Street between Montreal Road and Marier Avenue, and to the Vanier Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. Following the service, the parade participants will return to the Royal Canadian Legion going south on Hannah Street between Marier Avenue and Montreal Road, south on Cody Avenue between Montreal Road and Jeanne Mance Street, west on Jeanne Mance Street between Cody Avenue and Savard Avenue, and north on Savard Avenue between Jeanne Mance Street and Racine Robert Funeral Home.
  • Kanata – 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Kanata Branch 638), east on The Parkway between Earl of March High School (4 Parkway) and Teron Road, south on Teron Road between The Parkway and Colchester Square, Colchester Square, and west on Campeau Drive between Colchester Square and the John Mlacak Centre.
  • Manotick/South Carleton – 10:15 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (South Carleton Branch 314), east on Beaverwood Road from the Royal Canadian Legion to Manotick Main Street, north on Manotick Main Street from Beaverwood Road to Clapp Lane, east on Clapp Lane from Manotick Main Street, and to the Manotick Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. Then, south on Dickinson Street from the Manotick Cenotaph and Mill Street, west on Mill Street from Dickinson Street and Manotick Main Street, south on Manotick Main Street from Mill Street and Beaverwood Road, west on Beaverwood Road from Manotick Main Street and the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 314)
  • National War Memorial – 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion, Dominion Command. The following street closures will be in effect:
    Rideau/Wellington Street between Sussex/Colonel By Drive and Bank Street, Queen Street between O’Connor Street and Elgin Street, Elgin Street between Wellington Street and Albert Street, Metcalfe Street between Wellington Street and Albert Street, and O’Connor Street between Wellington Street and Queen Street.
  • Navan – 10:30 a.m. to noon, Colonial Road between Delson Drive and Fairgreen Avenue, and to the Navan Cenotaph for the ceremonial service.
  • Orléans – 10:30 to 11 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 632), Vimont Court and Taylor Creek Boulevard between Vimont Court and the Royal Canadian Legion at 800 Taylor Creek Boulevard, and to the Orleans Cenotaph for the ceremonial service.
  • Osgoode – 10:45 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (Osgoode Branch 589), Victoria Street between Eighth Line Road and Louise Street, and to the ceremonial service at the Osgoode Cenotaph in front of the Municipal Building.
  • Richmond – 10:45 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (Richmond Branch 625), Perth Street between the Richmond Shopping Plaza and the Richmond Memorial Park for the ceremonial service.
  • Stittsville – 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Stittsville and District Branch 618), north on Stittsville Main Street between the Royal Canadian Legion, (1480 Stittsville Main Street) and Warner-Colpitts Lane, and west on Warner-Colpitts Lane between Stittsville Main Street and the Stittsville Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. The parade participants will return to the Royal Canadian Legion going east on Mulkins Street between the Stittsville Cenotaph and Stittsville Main Street, and south on Stittsville Main Street between Mulkins Street and the Royal Canadian Legion, Stittsville Branch 618.
  • Strathcona – 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Sunday, November 5, Royal Canadian Legion (Strathcona Branch 595), Main Street between Immaculata High School (140 Main Street) parking lot and St. Paul University (223 Main Street) parking lot for the ceremonial service.
  • West Carleton – 1 to 2 p.m., Saturday, November 4, Royal Canadian Legion (West Carleton Branch 616), Constance Bay Road between McConnell Lane and Allbirch Road, and Allbirch Road between Constance Bay Road, and to the Royal Canadian Legion for the ceremonial service.
  • Westboro – 1:30 to 3 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Westboro Branch 480), north on Winston Avenue between the Royal Canadian Legion and Madison Avenue, east on Madison Avenue between Winston Avenue and Churchill Avenue, south on Churchill Avenue between Madison Avenue and Richmond Road, and west on Richmond Road between Churchill Avenue and Broadview Avenue to the Westboro Cenotaph. Wreath laying and ceremonial service at Westboro Cenotaph from 2:30 p.m. The parade participants will return east on Richmond Road between Broadview Avenue and the Royal Canadian Legion (Westboro Branch 480).

When the candy storm has passed

If you're like us, you've been dealing with the candy for weeks. There was the pre-pre-Halloween party, and then the pre-Halloween party, then the day-of Halloween party, and the pinnacle of it all - Halloween night.


We end up with PILES of candy - way more than any child should (or could) ever eat. 

Every year we let the kids have as much as they want on Halloween day/night (within reason of course) and then place it all high on top of the fridge. We have an 8 year-old and a 5 year-old, and so far, they haven't demanded that they keep their goodies in their rooms. As the weeks pass the candle dwindles - some of it is shipped to my office, and other treats disappear at night when parents are watching Netflix. 

I am probably overly anxious about these things, but the recent connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's has me worried - studies done in women in their 20s show early signs of Alzheimer's disease as evidenced by glucose hypometabolism in the brain (gulp.)

So short of freaking out about sugar and giving my kids an eating disorder, I've tried to devise ways to deal with the mountains of candy. And this could be helpful at many different times of the year - kids are overwhelmed with sugar at SO many holidays!!


This cute little gal flies in at night, takes some candy, and leaves one or two awesome gifts behind. I've never tried this, but I've heard it's really successful (link above.)

Donate to the Dentist

Many dentists will pay kids per pound of candy - just call to see if your office will do it! If not, check out my friend Dr. Dan Hwang at Westboro Station Dental.

Bring it to the office

This is not ideal, given that you're just forcing your co-workers to consume pounds of sugar. BUT, most offices house many employees, so really, no one is consuming too much. 

Create recipes

Make up fun recipes using leftover candy, like Smarties cookies or Twix brownies. Bring your baked goods to a church Christmas sale or a holiday party.

Christmas gifts

Buy some cute mugs, fill with candy, and wrap them up - tada!! The perfect little gift for a co-worker, teacher or friend.

**Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link to Amazon. If you purchase anything we may receive a small commission - enough to buy coffee or chocolate! ;) 

Netflix and IMBD or Netflix and Google?

Have you ever heard that we're now a generation who have multiple screens going at the same time? Do you fall into that category?

We do - and one of the main reasons is so that we can Google/IMDB while watching tv because...

"Who is that guy? I've seen him before! What's he been in!?"

And that isn't just me... the kids are starting to recognize actors and that they've been in other shows and movies they've seen. And then they want to know how old that actor is, how old the show/movie is, what year did it come out - what do you mean it's from when YOU were a kid (the original Annie was a hit in our house after the new Annie came out and was also well loved.)

Or maybe someone just recognizes a voice in an animated series - IMDB is one of our favourite Netflix watching resources! 

That being said... sometimes we get in to the actual fact and science questions that go a little bit beyond my actual knowledge and so Google comes to the rescue!



But I'm not going to lie - looking up who did what when and when something came out (Stranger Things has so many great childhood references to look back up!) over science questions are our top priority, but either way, two screens and double learning in almost every show is the order of the day in our digital household.

How about you? What do you most frequently look up while you're watching TV/Netflix?

And come on over to our Facebook page and tell us if Google or IMDB is the more frequent search tool used while watching tv! :) 

disclosure: I’m part of the Netflix Stream team and receive perks (like Netflix giveaways!), all opinions are my own, although I think needing to know who's voice that familiar voice on a show is is more fact that opinion, don't you?