Children might be already making their holiday lists to ensure that they get all the gifts their hearts desire. Yet, parents might be frustrated with the piles of toys, games and other ‘stuff’ that has piled up in bedrooms, the basement and the garage.
Some gifts that are enjoyed only for a short time and then discarded; that cool toy might become uncool in a few weeks. Instead of toys, games or the typical tech items, give an experience that lets children create lasting memories. Here are 25 experiences to gift this holiday:
- A museum membership
- Theme park memberships or tickets
- Tickets to a sporting event
- An evening at the symphony
- A night to see a live theater production
- Horseback riding lessons
- Music lessons
- Painting classes
- Pottery classes
- A family day at an escape room
- A movie night at the cinema (plus concessions)
- Cooking classes
- Ice-skating lessons
- An acting/theater class
- A train adventure (via Amtrak)
- A day at the water park (for summer)
- Summer camp
- A membership to a family gym
- A trip to a state historic site
- Skiing lessons or a ski trip
- A shopping trip/spree
- A factory tour
- Membership to a ‘of the month’ club
- Sports lessons
- An app membership
Gift Lessons Related to Interests
Children have different interests and passions. Some children have a variety of interests; they might be involved in sports, music and art. Others might focus on one interest and devote all their free time to this passion.
A gift of lessons can encourage children to pursue their passions and interests. Those who love baseball and play on a team might like to receive batting, pitching or fielding lessons from a pro. A child who loves music and participates in their school’s band program might enjoy personalized music lessons.
Some children haven’t yet been exposed to a certain sport or hobby but might express an interest in pursuing it. If a child wants to learn to ice-skate, parents might consider signing them up for skating lessons at a local ice rink. Those who are interested in the performing arts might be excited to take acting lessons at a local theater. A child who loves horses could be given riding lessons.
Parents also could combine an experience gift (like lessons) with materials or gear needed for those lessons. For example, a child might receive ice skates and skating lessons.
Membership gifts allow children (or any recipient) to have access to a specific activity or location for a period of time (typically a year). Museums, theme parks and gyms all might offer memberships for individuals or families.
If children enjoy visiting an art museum, history museum or science center, a membership could be a great gift. Parents could gift museum memberships to children or buy a family membership so that the whole family can enjoy their local museum.
Families also could focus on physical health and sign up for a family membership at a gym. Some families like gym memberships as they also provide access to pools and classes for children. Plus, a gym membership allows access to spaces for children to get plenty of physical activity and exercise (even if it’s just walking on an indoor track).
Some theme parks might offer memberships as an admission option, while others might offer season passes. These long-term memberships and passes let children gain access to a specific theme park for a season (or maybe for a full year). Parents could buy passes or memberships for everyone in the family; some theme parks also offer dining passes and other add-on options for passes.
In addition, some apps offer memberships or subscriptions for access to content. Parents might gift children a subscription to an audiobook app or another type of story reader app. In addition, parents also could find reading tutoring programs and apps to help their child gain reading confidence and proficiency.
Day and Evening Experiences
Children have different interests, and their interests can influence the experience gifts families consider for the holidays. Some children love sports while others love the arts.
Tickets to a concert (symphony or a favorite band), a theater production or even to the cinema to see a favorite movie could be an ideal gift for children and others in the family. Make a night special by taking a family excursion to see a concert or a movie.
For sports enthusiasts, tickets to a favorite team game could be a great gift. Take the family to a football, baseball, basketball or soccer game to cheer on the local team. Don’t forget the concessions!
Parents also could gift a day at a waterpark during the summer or a trip to another recreational park or local hangout. Some areas have many options for activities; families might live close to theme parks, even recreational centers that offer laser tag, rope courses and more.
Escape rooms have become a popular activity for families and for work events, too. Escape rooms can be found in nearly every large city; in fact, there are more than 2,000 escape room facilities in the country. An escape room experience encourages teamwork and bonding—everyone has to help to escape the room.
A Trip Gift
A trip is an experience gift that will make lasting memories for the whole family. Parents could surprise children with tickets for an Amtrak adventure or another unique excursion.
Some parents might give children the experience of summer camp. The camp experience might be tailored to a child’s interest like a space camp or sleepaway science camp. Parents can research camps that focus on their child’s hobbies, talents, and passions.
Trips to local historic sites also could be exciting for children who enjoy history or archaeology. Plan a trip focused on exploring certain sites and the history of these sites.
Factory tours also make a cool holiday gift. Parents might plan a tour of a chocolate or candy factory. Parents could take children to visit the Crayola Experience to make colorful crafts and explore creativity. While the Crayola Experience isn’t a factory tour, kids can learn how crayons are created.
Of-the-month clubs are similar to a membership. These clubs send a recipient a new product each month. There are monthly candy clubs, book clubs and more. Receiving a new gift or something unique every month can be exciting for children. These clubs give recipients something to look forward to with every new package.
Wired included a list of the best subscriptions for children. Some of the site’s picks included the Literati Book Club, the Bitsbox Basic Box (for those who love coding), and the Raddish Cooking Club (for budding chefs).
Gift a Shopping Spree
Some children and tweens are particular about the games or clothes that they want. A shopping spree gift provides children with an opportunity to pick out their favorite clothes or games while also having an adventure.
Parents can set a budget (maybe via a gift card) and plan a day of shopping. The shopping spree adventure might also include lunch or other activities.
Shopping sprees can focus on books, technology gifts or new clothes/shoes. Shopping sprees focus on encouraging a child to make their own choices to find items that they love and that best reflect their personality.
Experience Gifts Can Be Free
Experience gifts don’t necessarily have to be a financial investment. Parents on a tighter budget can make an experience coupon book for children. These experience coupons could include a day at a park, game night with mom/dad, a cooking adventure at home or just simple fun activities that encourage bonding and one-on-one time.
Parents also can use these coupons to teach children certain skills. A parent who is creative with wood working, painting or even coding might devote a day to hold an at-home camp to teach these skills to children.
No matter what experience parents give their children for the holidays, these unique presents can encourage children to explore their passions, have fun and make lasting memories.