Inside: Give your kids less stuff by giving them one of these 25 experience gifts perfect for all kids: sports, arts, classes, visits to interesting places.
My kids are getting bigger and my house is getting smaller by the minute. Five people’s stuff is piling out of closets, cabinets and drawers.
Including those obnoxious toys that play loud music.
We. have. so. much. stuff.
And we work on helping our kids be grateful for what they get.
Related: How to Teach Kids to Be Grateful
But with the holidays around the corners and birthdays next month it’s a time to reflect: Do we need more stuff?
Nope. Nope, we don’t.
But our amazing and generous family members want to give our kids gifts…So we ask our family members to get our kids experiences.
Experiences to go places, try new things, and have adventures we maybe can’t afford.
As a side bonus, it’s a great way to check things off your Family Bucket List and connect with each other.
But it can be hard to figure out what experiences to ask for.
This list of Experience Gifts will inspire you to get your kids less stuff and more memorable moments.
What is an Experience Gift?
An experience gift is giving a gift certificate or a “gift certificate” you make to go experience or do something in the near future.
It’s a class or passes to go somewhere or a chance to try something new.
Since it’s not an immediate gratification of playing with a new toy or reading a new book, it can be hard for our kids to understand the gift certificate. Especially our youngest kids.
So we often pair these experience gifts with a small trinket to get them excited about their upcoming adventure:
When we gave our daughter cooking classes, we also got her a personalized apron.
When we gave our kids Legoland tickets, they got a small lego to build.
And when we gave our kids a jump pass at our local indoor trampoline place, we also got them the socks required to jump there.
It’s a little token to get them even more excited about their gift.
Gifts that Visit New Places:
Some of these tickets are pricey, some of them are relatively inexpensive.
For many of the smaller museums, we purchase a Family Pass so we could return all year.
If you live close enough and it makes sense financially, a yearly pass is an incredible gift! We’ve had yearly passes to our local planetarium, our children’s museum, and even Disneyland.
Here are some great places to gift your kids with experiencing:
Disney Experiences: Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Disney World, Disney Cruise, Disney on Ice, Character Breakfasts- these are expensive gifts so maybe family members can join together on the gift giving.
Theme Parks: Universal, Six Flags, Water parks, Legoland, or any local amusement park
Related: Magical Gifts for the Harry Potter Fan perfect if you’re going to Universal Studios and Hogwarts
Mini Theme Parks: Legoland Discovery Centers (there are 12!) Check them out here.
Kids/Children’s Museums– these have been my kids’ absolute favorite gifts (even my daughter who was borderline “too old” for the children’s museum. She loved every minute.)
Zoos and Aquariums (many have overnight or behind the scenes experiences too if you want to make it more special).
Observatories and Planetariums
Escape Rooms- make sure they offer a kid-friendly version!
Active and Sports Lovers Experiences:
Indoor Play Yard Passes– Bounce Houses and indoor play yards are perfect ways to entertain your kiddos with different toys…especially on days where the weather doesn’t allow for outside play.
Trampoline Jumping Passes- Trampoline passes and Ninja Warrior passes saved us the winters we lived in the midwest. On days where the weather was below freezing, we were burning off their energy bouncing on trampolines. And I got to sit and read a book with a cup of coffee.
Ice Skating/Roller Skating/ Bowling Passes/Mini Golf
Ski/Lift Tickets/ Tubing Tickets- Sneak in a family vacation to the slopes with tickets and maybe lessons to a ski mountain.
Driving Range/Top Golf passes
Batting Cages-Have a baseball or softball lover? Give them tokens to the local batting cage.
Tickets to a Sporting Event– Hockey, baseball, basketball, football… whatever your kiddo is into. If you don’t live near a major sports team, try tickets to a minor league or college team sporting event that has a fan night or kids’ night.
Rock Climbing– If your kids are climbing your walls, give them passes to climb actual walls.
Horse Back Riding Lessons– This can be super expensive unless you check Groupon first for local deals but my daughter LOVED this birthday present.
Pool Passes or Pool Membership– we did this for our kids this summer and it gave us multiple days of summer fun.
Experience Gifts that Teach Kids Something New:
Lessons or classes for something your kids are interested in are always a great gift.
My kids have taken all different kinds of lessons as gifts. Check your local park and rec brochures and local craft stores to see what’s offered.
Some ideas for classes:
- cooking lessons
- baking lessons
- skateboarding lessons
- sewing lessons
- surfing lessons
- music lessons
- cupcake decorating classes
- cake decorating classes
- karate lessons
Artsy Experience Gifts:
Inspire your children with the arts with these awesome experience gifts that encourage them to enjoy both the fine arts and the performing arts.
Art Classes– There are as many classes as there are art forms…painting, sculpture, scrapbooking, etc. Check your local craft stores or art studios.
Painting Ceramics Classes– My kids love painting mugs and ceramic dogs. Check local malls for stores that are similar to Color Me Mine
Museum Visits or Memberships– Art museums and science museums that have kid-friendly exhibits are fantastic gifts for kids.
“Pop Up” Fun Museums– Just google “pop up museum” to find ones near you.
Play/Musical/Ballet Tickets (Real Theater tickets or Children’s Theater)- If you don’t live near a theater, check for a children’s theater and take them to see something performed there. We’ve taken the kids to see the Little Mermaid on stage and to watch the Boston Ballet perform the Nutcracker. This is also a perfect gift for tweens and teenagers (and adults too!)
Movie Tickets– Since we haven’t gone to the movies in a really, really long time, movie tickets would be a hit with my kids.
Go on a new adventure:
Train ride– If you have a train lover, take a ride into the city, up the coast, on a commuter rail or trips over the state line. My three-year-old got tickets for the train that took us right to a Children’s Museum.
Boat ride– If you have a boat lover, find a fun boat ride for them: gondolas, ferry boats, riverboats, paddleboats, etc.
Indoor Skydiving– This would be pretty perfect for an adventurous tween or teenager
Airplane Tickets– With many airlines offering inexpensive “hopper flights,” my sister got my two older kids tickets to come visit her in San Francisco by using her extra miles. I joined them and my husband drove up with our youngest and met us there. Their sparking apple juice drinks on the 45-minute plane ride was their highlight.
Stay at Home Experience Gifts:
Need to stay home more and not be quite as adventurous? These are some of the experience gifts we used during the pandemic that are still favorites.
Zipline, Slackline, Ninja Obstacle Course– We slowly added to this and every grandparent bought a piece of this active outdoor space. It was great as we started to say yes to playdates but they needed to be outside playdates. And now we have a replacement for the indoor trampoline and climbing places.
Movie Projector for Indoor or Outdoor Movie Nights– we painted a wall in our garage all white and watch movies out there when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor watching.
Escape Room– This virtual, digital escape room is so much fun for families to do together! My kids loved working together and only needed a little help from us.
It doesn’t matter what experience you give your kids. Or what experience you ask your family to give your kids.
As long as it’s not one more toy that plays obnoxious music too loudly.
Love this idea for your kids and want experience gift ideas for other members of the family?