What are good experience gift ideas for kids? The best experience gifts take a child's interest and let them do a hands-on activity related to it.
A few years ago we began encouraging our kids to think of experience gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Each year for Christmas they are given the gift of an "adventure" with mom and dad, instead of any gifts. Even the youngest kids get an experience. We also encourage Grandparents to also give an experience gift when possible, in addition to some toys.
At our house, Santa also exclusively gives an experience gift and stocking candy. Sometimes Santa gives the kids a fun trip somewhere and sometimes it is a membership to a local place.
Kids love our presence! So gifting them time with us as a present can be so meaningful! These are always some of our most memorable gifts! They also foster family connection.
To make experience gifts more tangible/visual for kids, the experience gift always comes with a picture of what it is (or a homemade certificate) and usually a fun note too or a small object to pair with it.
Awesome Experience Gift Ideas for Kids
Here are a few experience gifts that have been our favorites so far (or that friends have given their kids that we plan to duplicate someday).
- A Year of Play Ebook (with a year of activity ideas for toddlers- you can even gift this to someone)
- Zoo Trip or Membership
- Aquarium Trip or Membership
- Passes or Membership to a local Children's Museum
- Trip to a local amusement park or Membership
- Late night with mom and dad to watch a movie or play games (without any other siblings)
- Dinner date with mom and dad (without any other siblings)
- One on One date to a favorite place (nail salon, local trading card store, local park, etc)
- Tickets to a concert (doesn't need to cost money, you can find so many free events if you research the closest city you are near)
- Date to a favorite restaurant or treat place
- Tickets to a sporting event (doesn't need to cost money, can be a free high school game or trip to watch another local team)
- Trip to the Great Wolf Lodge (or a local water park to use in summer)
- Camping Trip (could be just in your backyard)
- Hiking trip to somewhere new/unique
- Trip to Home Depot Kids Workshop
- Game Night with Friends
- Craft/Art Day with friends
- Kid-friendly subscription box (one time gift, not an annual subscription to reduce waste/clutter)
- A giant wardrobe box and some paint and stickers (to make a house)
- Virtual Art or Cooking Class
- Stop Motion Video Making class (for kids ages 7+)
- Hands-On Play Club Membership
- In-person class or camp (dance, art, sports, music, singing, etc)
- Historical Tour in a city near you (Ex. Tour of Alcatraz or a Duck Boat Tour)
- Ice skating passes
- Bowling passes
- Roller skating passes
- Music lessons
- Online language lessons (Duolingo)
- Ski Passes
- Trip tp Disneyland/Disneyworld/Universal Studios, etc
- Movie Theatre gift card (or trip to the movies)
- Trip to Chuck E. Cheeses (or another indoor arcade/play place)
- Food Tasting Tour (you can find a lot online that you can do on your own in various cities)
Materials that you can purchase for kids to help them have an experience with crafting and creating.
- Craft Supplies- You can read my "must have" craft supplies here
- Sensory Bin materials- my friend Susie has got you covered on this one here.
- Quiet Time materials- You can read my favorite quiet time tools here.
- Cooking Tools- You can read by favorite Cooking Tools for Kids here.
Why give kids experience gifts?
On Christmas Day or a birthday, kids only need a few small gifts to be happy and content. In fact, often toddlers will be happy with just the giant boxes that the toys come in.
As kids get older, the experience gifts become more powerful because they give a gift of connection as well.