Tired of filling your house with toys that are quickly forgotten and create clutter in your home? If you’re ready to give a gift that will create a memory that will last forever, you’re going to love these unique and creative experience gift ideas for kids!
What Are Experience Gifts For Kids?
Generally speaking, experience gifts are any gifts that offer something besides a physical product. They can be strictly experiences, such as a zoo membership, or a hybrid such as a class that does come with some supplies.
Also known as gift experiences or experiential gifts, experience gifts are intended to create memories and/or foster creativity or skill development, versus extra toys cluttering the house.
Benefits of Gifting Experiences Instead of Things
- Less clutter. Okay, this probably matters more to the parent than the kid but less toys = less things to pick up and put away.
- Teaches the value of experiences. One of the best things about gifting experiences is that it teaches kids to value DOING things and not just having toys.
- Helps foster creativity and hobbies. Depending on the gift you choose, it can help foster creativity or a hobby that child has. Interested in science? A gift to the space museum can help bolster that curiosity. If they love cooking, a cooking class designed for kids can help them explore that.
- Create memories as a family. Many experience gifts are not just for the kids but for the whole family. Whether it’s going to the movies, to the beach, or learning to do something together, experiential gifts can be a great segway into spending time together and creating memories.
50+ Best Christmas Experience Gifts for Kids
Experience Gifts for Toddlers & Preschoolers
1) Children’s Museum Membership
A visit to the local children’s museum can be perfect for the youngsters in the family. They are typically designed with small children in mind so, unlike other museums, often have exhibits that toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy. Depending on how great the museum is, you may want to look into the price of an annual pass vs one single visit.
Of all the amusement parks out there, Legoland is one of the few aimed directly at smaller children. There are a few full-blown Legoland Parks (in Florida, New York, and California) but nearly 20 Legoland Discovery Centers throughout the country which are just as fun for the small family members.
3) Zoo membership
The local zoo can be a great place for the whole family, especially any toddlers and preschoolers that may be animal lovers too. Check out the options your local zoo offers, as an annual family pass might end up being close to the same price as a single visit. And don’t forget most zoos host special events throughout the year!
Aquariums are also a great place for younger kids – especially in the heat of summer when it’s too hot for many outdoor activities. Note that some aquariums do not allow strollers, so that’s something to check into depending on the age of the kids.
5) Disney Experiences
Disney isn’t just limited to the actual theme parks! If you have a Disney or princess-obsessed toddler, consider things like Disney on Ice if a trip to Disney or a Disney cruise isn’t feasible.
6) Personalized video from CameoKids
With Cameo Kids you can gift a personalized video message from the toddler’s favorite characters from Coco Melon, Thomas the Train, Blippi, and more.
8) Cosmic Kids
Cosmic Kids offers yoga specifically for little kids, featuring their favorite books and TV characters. They have a fun app as well as some books.
9) Swimming Lessons
An essential skill for all kids to learn, lessons at the local YMCA or other local pool can make a great gift.
10) Local Park Tour
A visit to the local park can be just as exciting as something more extravagant!
Experience Gifts for Getting Outside the House
11) Trampoline Park
Trampoline parks like Skyzone and other local chains are a great way to get kids out of the house and active, during the winter months especially. Most have gift cards available and some even have packages offering discounts on multiple visits.
12) Sporting Events
An outing to a local sporting event can be a great gift for older kids and teens, especially those who play sports or at least enjoy watching them. Find out when their favorite team is playing nearby and look into grabbing a ticket or two.
13) Water Park Passes
Both outdoor and indoor water parks can make a great gift experience, either as a fun afternoon activity or a weekend getaway. An overnight at Great Wolf Lodge or a similar resort could be an affordable getaway for the whole family.
14) Summer Camp
If your child has been begging to attend summer camp, Christmas can be a great time to gift that experience to them. It’ll give them something to look forward to for the next 6 months!
15) Dancing Lessons
This can include formal lessons at the local dance studio or fun online lessons. There are so many options out there for all styles of dance!
16) Ice Skating
Ice skating can be a fun activity to gift an older kid or teen, especially during the winter. Either as a casual outing to the local rink or perhaps lessons if they’re more serious about it!
17) Indoor Rock Climbing
Have an adventurous kid that you’re not sure what to gift? Consider rock climbing at a local indoor facility! (Or outdoor, depending on where you live!)
18) Horseback Riding
If you have a horse-crazy kid, skip the plastic ponies and give them the gift of time spent with horses instead! You’ll have lots of options here, including trail rides and private or group lessons.
19) Hot Air Ballon Ride
A true bucket list gift but maybe not as outrageous as you think. Depending on where you live or where you’ll be visiting, a hot air balloon ride is a great way to get a unique view of the area and an experience they’ll be talking about for years to come.
20) Indoor Skydiving
If you’re looking for a gift for an adrenaline junkie, an indoor skydiving session could be the perfect answer! iFly has locations across the country, with more opening each year, and there are other non-chain establishments in most major cities as well.
21) Observatories and Planetariums
This is perfect for the kid interested in outer space! Look into timing it with things like a solar eclipse or meteor shower if you can.
22) Indoor Play Yards
Indoor bounce houses and play yard passes make a great gift that can be redeemed on a cold or rainy day!
23) Ski Lift or Tubing Passes
For some outdoor adventure in the colder months, consider a local ski lift pass or tubing pass, depending on the child’s preference!
24) Batting Cages
Softball and baseball lovers will enjoy some time at the local batting cages to practice their game. This makes the perfect Christmas experience gift since most batting cages are indoors, allowing them to practice their favorite sport in every season.
25) TopGolf Passes
Older kids who may enjoy some time at a driving range would have a blast at a TopGolf location.
26) Pool Passes
If you have a local community swimming pool, this can be a fun gift and one they can look forward to all winter.
27) Art Classes
Check your local craft stores to see if they have any art classes coming up that your child may enjoy.
28) Ceramic Classes
Similarly, painters would love a class at Color Me Mine or a similar studio where you can paint any ceramic of your choosing.
See if there’s a (relatively) local museum related to an interest of your child, whatever that may be.
30) Pop Up Museums and Art Installations
You can also check to see what pop-up museums and art installations may be coming to your area soon. These are extra fun because of the added novelty of being a pop-up.
31) Theater Tickets
This can encompass ballet, musical, and play tickets – either at a bigger theater or somewhere local.
32) Paddleboard or Kayak Rental
If you live near a river or lake that offers kayak or paddleboard rentals, a gift certificate to redeem in the warmer months can make a great gift.
33) Boat or Train Rides
This will vary depending on where you live but if you have a boat or train-obsessed youngster, getting to ride on one can be very exciting! This also works for older kids if the train is going somewhere or they’re interested in the experience of being on the boat.
This can look like a fishing license or maybe just an “I owe you” of a day on the pond/lake/river. An inexpensive lure makes a great way to wrap this up as something to give.
35) Concert Tickets
If their favorite artist is going on tour soon, check and see if they’re stopping anywhere local. Tickets make a great gift!
36) Festivals and special events
Look at the local city calendar to see if there are any events coming up that coincide with their interests. Renaissance Festivals, Comic Book Conventions, Dinosaur Encounters – there’s something for everyone.
Depending on where you live, surf lessons, jet skis, and other watersports can make a great gift.
38) Salon or Spa Gift Card
This is perfect for older kids who may enjoy a spa pedicure or manicure or who have been asking to cut or color their hair.
Experience Gifts for the Whole Family
39) Escape Room
Escape rooms can be a great idea for a gift the entire family can enjoy. Each escape room tends to have a different theme and they can vary in age level-appropriateness but most are appropriate for older kids and teens.
40) Theme Park
If you have a local theme park or at least one within a few hours driving distance, a ticket can be the perfect experience gift for kids of all ages. Some amusement parks, like Disney or the above-mentioned Legoland, are ideal for younger kids while others like Cedar Point and Six Flags are better for rollercoaster-riding older kids.
41) Science Center
Admission to the local science center can make a great gift for kids with related interests and can easily be turned into a fun day for the family.
42) National Parks
Exploring a national park (or even state park) can be fun for the whole family. Consider gifting a national parks pass and making it a goal to visit as many as possible in a year or just plan a visit to one specific park.
43) Movie Tickets
In 2023, actually going to the movies may be a bit more rare than it used to be – which might make it an even better gift! Whether there’s a movie they’re dying to see coming out soon or you just want to plan a fun day, you can buy physical tickets or a gift card to a local theater or chain. Remember to include some extra for popcorn too!
44) Camping Trip
Family camping trips can create endless memories. There are many ways to turn this into an unwrappable gift too – you could print out a photo of the campground or perhaps purchase something like a sleeping bag that they’ll need on the trip.
45) Mini Golf
While the average kid may not be interested in visiting the local driving range for a round of real golf, most will love the novelty of mini golf! It’s perfect for families with kids in different age ranges too, as it’s appropriate for preschoolers right up to teens.
Bowling is another fun activity for the whole family, if you still have a local bowling alley! Most will allow you to purchase gift certificates towards renting a lane and shoes.
Most arcades have switched to using a refillable card instead of actual money, which makes it even easier to gift. Check for specials as sometimes they’ll offer deals like “$100 of game play for $50”!
48) Laser Tag
Laser tag is another way to have a great time as a family – and you may even be able to combine it with the bowling or arcade above, if they’re housed in the same facility. (If you have multiple kids, you could gift one bowling and another laser tag, then enjoy it all as a family.)
49) Beach Day
If you’re within driving distance of the beach, load up the family and head out for a day of fun in the sun.
50) Dinner at their favorite restaurant
Whether in the form of a gift card or an actual outing, this is perfect for older kids that have been begging to go back to their favorite restaurant.
Experience Gifts to Enjoy at Home
51) Music lessons
If your child has shown an interest in a specific musical instrument, music lessons can be a great way to foster that love.
52) Board Games
This might cross a bit into the “things” category but playing a board can be fun for the entire family, so I think it counts as an experience too! There are so many unique board games out there so don’t be afraid to look beyond Candyland!
53) Cooking Classes
If your child has an interest in cooking, a cooking class can make a great hands-on learning experience! Depending on where you are, there are many different options for this – in-person classes, online classes, and even some subscription boxes as described below.
54) Slackline or Obstacle Course
If you have the space in your house (or outside), you can create your very own obstacle course for the kids. This is great because you can continually add to it with each passing holiday.
55) Movie Projector
Turn watching movies as a family into a special experience by projecting the movie on the side of the house in the summer or on a big wall during the colder months.
56) Virtual Escape Room
If you can’t visit a real escape room, you can create one at home! These virtual escape rooms are suitable for kids of all ages.
57) Guitar lessons from Fender
FenderPlay is a monthly subscription that offers bite-sized guitar lessons for electric, bass, and acoustic guitars as well as the ukulele.
58) Magic Class
Kids interested in magic tricks will love the Magic 101 lesson which covers fun card tricks and more.
59) Class Bento Courses
These online classes cover pretty much any topic imaginable, so they’re perfect for older kids with more developed interests. Each class comes with a kit that you can use to follow along, whether you’re learning to make a terrarium or making hot chocolate bombs.
60) Karate Classes
Outschool offers lots of interesting classes but perhaps one of the most fun is the karate classes. There are several to choose from, based on age level, and some start as low as $6 per week!
61) Subscription Boxes
While some subscription boxes definitely add to the “stuff” in the house, others offer hands-on learning experiences. You can find them on literally every topic. A few favorites:
- Alltruists – Each box tackles an important world topic and comes with a few STEM activities.
- Annie’s Kit Club – For the creative minds and crafters! The boxes designed for kids include the Young Woodworkers, Genius Club, and Creative Girls.
- KiwiCo. KiwiCo offers up many different subscription boxes with a wide range of subjects and age levels.
- Little Passports. Little Passports also offers several different subscriptions, ranging from crafts to cooking to STEM, and are a great way to introduce kids to other countries and cultures.
Pinna is a podcast and audiobook app designed for kids, with no commercials and kid-appropriate content.
63) Other online courses and classes
There are many sites out there that offer different online courses and classes in a wide range of topics. You can either find a specific course that matches the interest of the kid or offer a subscription to let them pick. A few ideas:
Non-Toy Experience Gift Ideas
There you have it – over 60 Christmas Experience Gift Ideas that will bring joy and enrichment to your childs life, way longer than any plastic toy ever could.
More Holiday Gift Ideas:
View the Experience Gifts for Kids Story here
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