10 Creative Kids Gift Ideas for Under $20

Lego kit. Lego kit. Lego kit. Lego kit. $10 cash. Lego kit. My children have been both the recipients of and contributors to the endless amounts of Lego kits and cash at birthday parties, which is great because what kid doesn’t like Legos and money to buy Legos? However, I do like thinking outside of the box when giving gifts to my kids and their friends and I have especially enjoyed when others do the same. And any friend of my child who brings a gift that doesn’t have a million tiny pieces, take batteries or make obnoxious sounds is a friend of mine. Come back anytime, kid.

Here are 10 creative gift ideas for under $20:

1. Magnetic Wall

Supplies: 24″x36″ drip pan from an auto parts store ($11), magnets, screws

My boys have used their magnet wall for magnetic letters (found at the dollar store), tiles, marble runs and to display artwork. You can either purchase a magnetic marble run from the store or create your own using paper towel and toilet paper rolls and hot gluing magnets to them.

(If your kids have bunk beds, you can put one under the top bunk, and attach one to the ceiling for added fun!)

2. Build with PVC

Supplies: PVC pipe of your desired width (I recommend 1″- 1 1/2″) cut into 12″ pieces, different PVC connectors matching the width of the pipe, mesh drawstring laundry bag for storage

My kids love building with PVC pipe! You can either purchase your own PVC pipe cutter or saw, or sometimes the nice employee at the hardware store will cut it into pieces for you. For added fun, drill some holes into one side of the pipe about 6 inches apart and grab a hose connector for one end and a stop for the other to make a sprinkler! 


3. Gutter Track

Supplies: gutter, cinder blocks or PVC pipe

My kids have spent hours upon hours upon days rolling cars, balls and water down a house gutter! My mother-in-law gets credit for this one! She made a 3 ft. tall stand out of PVC pipe, but you can also use cinder blocks to put the gutter at an angle. For added fun, buy a second gutter to race cars! Bonus: this toy is weatherproof and can stay outside! MIL for the win!

Added: pool noodle at the top and aluminum foil canal at the end.

4. Dollar Store Build / Craft Kit

Supplies: aluminum foil, tape, pipe cleaners, straws, paper clips etc.

I love keeping random supplies in the kids craft drawer (so they don’t steal mine that I actually use). One summer, the kids took aluminum foil and the hose out into the driveway and built shallow canals and boats. They spent hours sending the boats down the aluminum foil canals. They also love to build straw towers with straws and pipe cleaners. The creativity is endless and the supplies are disposable and inexpensive! Sure, the parents might look at you a little funny if you give their kid aluminum foil, but the kid is already dreaming up the endless possibilities of fun!

5. Spy Kit

Supplies: bag or box, magnifying glass, combination lock, bungee chords, flash light, notepad, pencil, unused keys, stop watch, rope, clothes pins, sun glasses, measuring tape, glow sticks, ear buds, disguise mustaches, sling shot, etc. 

One Christmas we were on a tight budget and put together these spy kits for $20 from the Dollar Tree! We personalized the bags for Agent J and Agent L and loaded them up with items from the hardware, school and office sections. These gifts were their favorite toys for YEARS and have made many of great birthday gifts for friends!

6. PVC Telephone

Supplies: 1 – 1 1/2″ PVC pipe cut to your preferred length, 1 – 1 1/2″ elbow connectors 

If your kids have bunk beds this is one of our favorite things that we have added to their bed. At night the kids can whisper to each other from the top bunk to the bottom. You can also make smaller hand-held ones for kids to use to read aloud to themselves.

[easy-image-collage id=11781]

7. Lawn Dice

Supplies: 4″x4″ or 6″x6″ wood cut into 6 cubes, stain or paint, sand paper, bucket

If you do not own a miter saw, this might be one to ask an employee at the local hardware store to help out with. Typically the first few cuts are free and any other cut after that is $0.50. Be sure to sand the sides and corners well to avoid splinters. You can use stain or paint to make the dots for the dice. Use 5 dice for Yahtzee, 6 dice for Farkle, or browse the Internet for other dice games.

8. Battery Changing Kit

Supplies: small plastic container, flat head and phillips head screwdrivers of different sizes, batteries

Gone are the days when Mom and Dad get called to change the batteries in games because now our kids have their own battery changing kits! The batteries are the most expensive part of this gift.

9. Scrap Wood Building Blocks

Supplies: scrap wood

If you go to the hardware store they typically have a bin with scraps for cheap. I’ve collected a lot of scraps over the years. Sometimes I ask them to cut it down for me or sometimes it’s already cut to a manageable size. My kids prefer playing with wood scraps to actual building blocks that cost a lot of money. Also, these stay outside so they don’t clutter my home.

10. Recipe & Cooking Kit

Supplies: a recipe card, dry ingredients to make the recipe, mixing bowl, spatula, oven mitt, apron, etc.

My kids love to cook and would love to make a meal “all on their own” (with mom’s help, of course). This one would need supervision, but it’s no different than slime, IMO – and we have all received slime as a gift at some point. 

What are some other creative gift ideas that you have received or given?

Casey Hilty
Casey Hilty has been married for over 12 years to her beau, Bo, and has three kids ages 11, 9 and 6. She is a published author and just released her first book Her Children Arise - a Bible study for moms. She is an active member of The Bayou Church and leads a Bible study group for moms called MOMentum. Casey is also an artist and member of the L’Acadian Art Guild. Her family shares a passion for the people and culture of Haiti and Casey and her husband lead annual mission trips there. The Hilty Family lives on a small (itty bitty, teeny tiny) “farm” in New Iberia with their kids, dog, cats, goats, a bunch of chickens and one rooster. You can follow Casey on Instagram @caseyhilty or on her website at www.caseyhilty.com.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here