Gifts for Preschoolers That Aren’t Toys

In suburban America, most kids have enough toys to keep five families occupied. Parents are constantly purging the closets, taking toys to Goodwill as their children outgrow them. The shelf life of many toys is limited.

So when a preschooler’s birthday rolls around, many parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles are looking beyond the toy aisle at Meijer for the best birthday gift for their little loved one. Check out our list for great birthday gift experiences inspiration!

Tasked with throwing the perfect pint-size party? Our West Michigan Birthday Party Guide can help you find the perfect venue.


Fun at Hudsonville Lanes

Hudsonville Lanes is more than just your average bowling alley. Not only do they accommodate younger bowlers with bumpers and ramps, but they also offer cosmic bowling, an in-house ice cream shop, fundraisers, parties and school outings. Hudsonville Lanes also boasts a family-friendly atmosphere where no alcohol is served and the facility is 100% smoke-free.

5775 Balsam Dr, Hudsonville, MI 49426 | 616-669-9380

Clever Birthday Gift Ideas for a Preschooler

Memberships to Museums and Attractions

A museum membership doesn’t take up a lot of space at home, but it sure does take a lot of energy out of that busy kid! Many local museums or attractions are either catered to kids or have kid-friendly aspects to them, and they offer different membership plans. If a family membership isn’t in your budget, simply getting them a one-day pass for them and their family would be fun.

My kids have an uncle who always gifts them a membership to the John Ball Zoo! Having a membership means we don’t stress if we only play at the playground by the Tigers or if a little sibling has a meltdown–we can always come back again soon and see more.

You can check out our Big List of Zoo, Museum and Nature Center Memberships Within One Hour of Grand Rapids for more ideas and a breakdown on costs.


Explore at John Ball Zoo

John Ball has everything you’d expect in a zoo and more. Offering camel rides, a funicular, lions, tigers & bears, monkeys, and a petting zoo, there is something for everyone.

3707 Northridge Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49544 | 616-336-4301


An Activity With You

My daughters love their Aunt Annie weekends, where they are whisked away to their cool auntie’s apartment and do fun things like go to movies and do nails. Chances are, that special kid in your life would also enjoy an outing with you. And the fun part? You can pick something that you would both enjoy together!

If you’re into creating, try a class together at The Mud Room. If your preschooler likes glam, you could get manicures or pedicures together.

Love the theatre? CARE ballet is a great stage idea, as these shows are specially geared toward little kids. Musicals are great fun at The Civic Theatre.

Active kids will enjoy an afternoon at an indoor trampoline park like Catch Air or Rebounderz.


Following on the heels of “activity with you” are sporting events. Get a set of tickets for them to see the West Michigan Whitecaps in action. The Grand Rapids Griffins and Grand Rapids Drive are also great adventures. Be sure to give them vouchers for snacks, too!

Would your preschooler rather be part of the action? Sign them up for their favorite sport!



Play at R-Athletics

R Athletics is a gymnastics, cheer and tumbling center in Grand Rapids. They offer recreational and competitive gymnastics, as well as birthday parties and Date-Night Drop-Off. Other activities include a treehouse, Just My Size Trampolines, a climbing wall and more.

You’ll find events catering to little kids to teens.

2845 Thornhills Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49546 | 616-957-4900

Summer or Day Camp

This is a gift that will have mom and dad thanking you, too. Camps are great ways for kids to explore their interests without making a big commitment. Our Summer Camps Guide will be updated for 2019 soon. (Tip: check with mom or dad first before booking a camp.)

Classes, Classes, Classes

Learning opportunities are everywhere and these are great ways for preschoolers to start learning social skills away from home.


Tell us, what gift experiences have you given to a preschooler that were a big hit?


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By |2019-01-08T20:29:14+00:00January 11th, 2018|Categories: Birthday Parties|2 Comments

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  1. Steph January 20, 2017 at 8:25 am - Reply

    My aunt gave my son of his favorite things this past year for his birthday: his very own “credit card” aka a gift card but the catch is that she explained to him that it’s for popcorn at Target as it was even wrapped up in a popcorn bag. I don’t think he’s even aware it could purchase other thing there, but now whenever we shop at Target he’s excited to buy his own bag of popcorn using the card.

    • April H
      April H January 22, 2017 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      What a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing, Steph.

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