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I don’t know about you, but my kids have a ton of stuff. We do a big purge of toys, books, and video games before the holidays. It’s a losing battle since they have November birthdays and our family is very generous during the holidays. This year we’re trying something a bit different. My husband and I are going to give our kids the gift of experiences (with some monetary help from the grandparents) along with the items on their wish list.
What is an experience gift? Instead of receiving a physical item, the recipient receives a present that allows them to do something. The experience could be a one time activity (a day of ice skating and hot chocolate) or one that lasts all year (a subscription to a children’s theatre). Not only are these activities fun, but you’re creating family memories that will last forever–unlike that toy.
Not sure what type of experiences are best for your family? I asked my friends for recommendations that the entire family can enjoy.
9 Fantastic Family Experience Gift Ideas
Adventure park: Purchase passes for a local adventure park. We have one that offers zip lining, hiking trails, and obstacle courses. Adventure parks are great during school breaks when you need to get out of your home. A little nature is good for the soul.
Museum membership: If you think that museums are all about staring at art and old bones, you’re wrong. They’re full of interactive exhibits that encourage hands on learning for both kids and adults. If you have younger children, look for a children’s museum. A membership will also give your family perks such as discounts in the gift shop, priority access to special exhibits and even parking discounts. Some memberships even give you free or discounted admission to other museums in their network.
Zoo or aquarium membership: Yes, the National Zoo offers free admission, but the perks (such as free parking) will pay for itself after a few visits. Zoos and aquariums are ideal for multiple visits since you’ll see different animal behaviors each time. Many of them also provide programs where you can see and touch animals up close. Plus you’ll get perks such as discounts in the gift shop and special events.
Passes for laser tag, mini golf, trampoline park, bowling or other activity center. There are sanity savers when you’re snowed in or have cabin fever. Plus all of that physical activity will help the kids sleep better. Hopefully.
Subscription to activity box: Choose a subscription box that you’ll enjoy doing with your kids. Each month, you can sit down together to play or create the project in the box. Here’s some our family loves:
- Little Passports for armchair travelers. Each month you’ll travel to a new country or state and learn about its history, culture, and food. (Save 15% with code JOLLY)
- Tinker Crates add the fun into science and engineering. Each box comes with supplies for a STEM project, a magazine, and additional experiments.
- Junior Explorers send you on animal missions all over the world. Each kit comes with a field guide, stickers, pins, figurines and access to a digital portal.
Science center membership: Both of my kids love science so this is an ideal gift for them. They still talk about the time we ate bug cookies at the Maryland Science Center. Not only will you receive all the perks of a membership (discounts, priority to special events, etc), you can receive free reciprocal admission to other science centers/museums.
Theatre, orchestra, or ballet subscription: I might be biased, but I love going to the theatre. There’s something energizing about watching a play or musical unfold live on stage. I sneak glances at my kids during plays and they’re beaming from excitement. Most theatres usually have a few family friend shows each season, especially around the holidays. If you have younger kids, look for a subscription to a local children’s theatre or family friendly concerts. Not only will your family enjoy the experience, you’ll be supporting the arts!
Passes to an amusement park: If it’s in your budget, the holidays are a good time of the year to score season passes to an amusement park or living history park like Colonial Williamsburg. Sometimes it’s good to escape everyday life and enjoy a carefree day.
Cooking, science, art, or magic classes: Or whatever enrichment your kids will enjoy. Search your county’s recreation department for class listings. Some might even offer parent-child classes. Take them together or ask your child to teach you afterwards. I vote for cooking because you’ll eat the fruits of their labors–literally. Or you can purchase a kit. I picked up this cheesemaking kit for us make during winter break. We also plan to try out some Ethiopian recipes from Raw Spice Bar.
What family fun experience gifts would you add to this list?