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60 Best Experience Christmas Gifts for Kids (Instead of Toys)

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With the holiday season just around the corner, I wanted to share some fantastic ideas for Christmas gifts for kids that go beyond the usual toys and gadgets. 

Let’s face it, while those material gifts can be fun, they often end up cluttering the living room and collecting dust. 

This is the perfect time to consider experience gifts instead.

While it can be a hard transition for the gift giver or getting to wrap their mind around – experience gifts can create memories that last a lifetime!

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What Are Experience Gifts?

Real quickly, before we get to the list of the best experience gifts for kids, let’s chat about what an experience gift actually is. 

You’re probably already pieced it together by the name, but experience gifts are meant to give someone a chance to DO something (ahem, “experience” something), rather than a physical gift. 

Don’t get me wrong, a well thought out tangible gift can be great, but sometimes parents (and even kids) realize they really don’t need more “stuff” and find the best gifts are new adventures together. 

Experience gifts provide wonderful opportunities for kids (and the whole family) to have a great time, learn new things, and explore exciting activities. 

And guess what? 

I’ve got a bunch of ideas for you!

60 of the Best Experience Gifts for Kids

Believe it or not, experience gifts can start at any age! 

I’ll break down these experience gift ideas by age, but just know that each prior age group(s) are likely appropriate or can be mildly adjusted for older ages. 

Think about who your gift is for, how old they are, and their personality. 

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Experience Gifts for Babies

1. Music Lessons

Is your little one musically inclined? Maybe they love to dance and want to go to an ECFE music class or maybe an older child could start guitar lessons. 

A gift card or gift certificate for music lessons could be a perfect way to introduce them to a new instrument or help them improve their existing skills.

2. Annual Membership to a Children’s Museum

Many cities and states are starting to have a Children’s Museum to offer families – so chances are good there’s one somewhere near your area. 

A membership to a local children’s museum can keep the whole family entertained throughout the year, even on rainy days.

Often times Children’s Museums will have a special section for babies, so even they can get involved and join the fun!

You can find a Children’s Museum near you by checking here. 

3. Kiwi Co Subscription

Kiwi Co is an awesome subscription that offers developmentally appropriate toys, crafts, and more to grow your child’s learning through play. 

What I love about the KiwiCo boxes is that they start at 0-24 months – so they even have age appropriate toys and activities for the littlest learners, all the way to 12-16+. Pretty impressive!

Sign up to gift a KiwiCo subscription here. 

4. Picnic in the Park

Pack a delicious picnic and spend the day at the park, playing games and enjoying the outdoors. While this might seem a little weird for baby, getting in the outdoors, laying on blanket, or trying new foods in their camp chair can be a fun and fulfilling experience. 

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Experience Gifts for Toddlers

5. Dance Lessons

For the little dancers out there, dance lessons can be an amazing gift. 

Some toddlers might just really want to try it, while others might go on to be involved in dance for years to come.

Plus, it’s a great way for them to stay active and express themselves creatively.

6. Scavenger Hunt

Create a personalized scavenger hunt for your kids to enjoy in the house or around the neighborhood. It’s a unique experience and loads of fun.

7. Train Ride Excursion 

Hop on a scenic train ride to explore new landscapes. This is the perfect experience gift for any littles obsessed with trains. 

8. Day Pass to an Indoor Trampoline Park

Indoor trampoline parks are typically found in larger cities and are often a special treat for kids. 

Let the kids bounce their hearts out and release some energy.

9. Science Center Exploration

Stimulate young minds with tickets to an interactive exhibit at a science center or museum.

10. Living Room Campout

Set up a living room campout with tents, sleeping bags, and s’mores for a cozy night in.

11. Youngest Kids’ Playdate at an Indoor Play Area

The little ones will have a blast at a safe and fun indoor play zone.

12. Magical Unicorn Encounter or Dinosaur Encounter

 Look for the Magical Unicorn Encounter or Dinosaur Encounter to be coming to your area. 

These are often traveling “experiences”, so you’ll want to check the dates on where they’re in your city. 

13. Cooking Together

This experience seems easy, but can be so special – spend a day cooking together, trying out new recipes and flavors. Yes – even toddlers can do this one with good supervision, and spoiler alert: they’ll LOVE it (and probably want to do it again tomorrow).

14. Children’s Theater Show

Watch a theatrical performance specifically tailored for young audiences. If you’re native to the midwest, here’s one in Minnesota!

15. Kids’ Gardening Kit

For little green thumbs, a gardening kit is a great way to introduce them to planting and nurturing plants.

16. Local Farm Visit

Spend a day at a local farm, picking fruits or vegetables and learning about farm life and animals. 

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Experience Gifts Preschoolers and Early Elementary

17. Little Passports Subscription Boxes

Little Passports is a subscription box that sends children a fun box every month filled with projects (and learning!). You can spark your little one’s curiosity with monthly adventure-themed boxes delivered to their doorstep. 

These subscription boxes are set up by age group, starting with 3 years old. 

Sign up for a Little Passports Subscription gift here

18. Amusement Park Passes

Give the gift of endless fun with annual passes to their favorite amusement park. Just imagine the excitement on their faces when they receive this surprise on Christmas morning!

19. Movie Tickets

Who doesn’t love a trip to the movies? Movie tickets are an excellent option for a fun family outing.

20. Cooking or Baking Classes

For aspiring young chefs, cooking classes can be an exciting way to learn new skills in the kitchen. These are often based on skill or age, so be sure to check into what you’re signing up for 😉

21. Horseback Riding Adventure

For the horse lovers, a horseback riding experience will be a dream come true and something they’ll likely talk about for years to come.

22. Roller Skating Rink

Have a roller-skating adventure that brings back nostalgic vibes. 

23. Indoor Arcade

Give the gift of games! Spend a day at an indoor arcade playing games and winning prizes.

24. Art Class or Workshop 

Unleash their creativity with an art class or workshop. There are endless opportunities based on what your child is really interested in or would love to try. 

​Here’s a few ideas:

  • Sewing class
  • Pottery class
  • Watercolor Painting class
  • Woodshop (for older kids)

25. Volunteering Experience

Teach the value of giving back by participating in a family volunteering activity. Your kids will learn an amazing lesson and might just be surprised at how good it feels. 

Here’s some easy ideas for volunteering together: 

  • Work at the food shelf
  • Do random acts of kindness together
  • Help build at Habitat for Humanity
  • Clean up the ditches

26. Trampoline Dodgeball

Older kids will love the thrill of trampoline dodgeball with their friends. You’ll often find sign ups at trampoline parks. 

27. Outdoor Adventure 

Go on a thrilling outdoor adventure like zip-lining, kayaking, white water rafting, or hiking. This one of a kind activity doesn’t happen every day and is perfect for kids who are thrill seekers. 

28. Kids’ Yoga Class

Encourage mindfulness and relaxation with a kids’ yoga class. This is the perfect gift for kids looking to try something new or learn some great calming and relaxation techniques to get the wiggles out. 

29. Sports Coaching/Class

Does your child love gymnastics or baseball (or any other sport)? Give a one time gift of private lessons or an extra special class they take to hone in on their skills or try something brand new. This gift is a great option if you want a safe pick that you know the child will love.

30. Visit to a Planetarium

Kids love stars and thinking about the craziness of the universe – it’s just so cool. Help them discover the wonders of the universe with a trip to the planetarium. 

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Experience Gifts for Teens

31. Escape Room Adventure

For older kids who love puzzles and challenges, an escape room experience is a great gift. Watching them work together with friends or the entire family to solve mysteries is so much fun.

32. Sporting Event Tickets

Got sports enthusiasts in the family? Tickets to a live sporting event will make them jump for joy. 

33. Indoor Skydiving

Get the adrenaline pumping with indoor skydiving—an experience they’ll talk about for years to come.

34. Broadway Show 

If you’re in a city with Broadway shows, treat the family or just your teen to a live performance that will leave them in awe.

35. Rock Climbing Adventure

Older kids will love the challenge and thrill of rock climbing. It’s a great way to build confidence and strength.

36. Virtual Reality Experience

Older kids will love trying out virtual reality games and experiences.

37. Laser Tag Fun

Have a blast playing laser tag for an afternoon with friends and family.

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Experience Gifts for Families 

38. National Parks Adventure

If you have nature lovers or adventure seekers, consider an annual pass to the national parks. They’ll have a blast exploring the great outdoors.

39. Hot Air Balloon Ride

Want to add a touch of magic to their Christmas gift? A hot air balloon ride is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

40. Mini Golf & Go Carts

Take the family out for a round of mini-golf, a classic and enjoyable experience for all ages.

If you’re up for it, add on a few laps of go cart races too.

41. Family Vacation

Instead of lots of little gifts, consider planning a family vacation together. It’s the perfect way to bond and create lasting memories.

42. Botanical Gardens Exploration

For the nature lovers and plant enthusiasts, a trip to the botanical gardens can be educational and inspiring.

43. Family Camping Trip

Embrace the great outdoors with a camping trip. Roasting marshmallows around the campfire is always a hit!

44. Indoor Water Park

For those cold winter days, an indoor water park is a perfect option to keep the kids active and entertained. 

We love trips to Great Wolf Lodge for our little family. 

45. Ice Skating Rink

Take the family ice skating for a day of gliding and laughter.

46. Visit a Local Zoo

Spend a day with the animals at the zoo for a wild time.

47. Live Show Tickets

Treat them to a kid-friendly live performance or show. 

48. Extended Family Experience 

Plan a fun day out for the whole extended family, creating beautiful memories together.

49. Holiday Movie Marathon

Create a cozy movie marathon day with all their favorite holiday films.

50. Family Game Night

Get a selection of board games and have a fun family game night at home.

51. Aquarium Visit

Dive into the wonders of the underwater world with a trip to the aquarium.

52. Family Puzzle Challenge

Work together as a family to complete a challenging jigsaw puzzle.

53. Family Bike Ride

Plan a family bike ride and explore nature trails or local parks.

54. Storytelling Night

Have a family storytelling night where everyone takes turns sharing their imaginative tales.

55. Family Pottery Class

Get your hands dirty with a pottery class that’s fun for all ages.

56. Day at the Beach

Enjoy a day of sandcastles, swimming, and sunshine at the beach.

57. Family Karaoke Night

Sing your hearts out with a family karaoke night at home.

58. Family-Friendly Cooking Competition

Have a friendly cooking competition at home and let the kids be the judges.

59. Family Bowling Night

Head to the bowling alley and have a fun night bowling strikes or getting gutter balls together.

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Bonus: 12 Months of Experiences Gift

Ever heard of the 12 Months of Experiences Gift?

This experience gift for kids is definitely more of a commitment than others, but is a truly magical and thoughtful way to spread joy and excitement throughout an entire year! 

This gift idea is all about creating a series of cool experiences, each tailored to a different month, that will keep the recipient’s spirits high and their hearts filled with happiness month after month.

So, how does it work? 

Well, it’s like this: instead of giving a single physical present on Christmas day, you present the lucky recipient with a beautifully wrapped set of 12 envelopes or packages, each marked with a specific month. 

Inside each envelope is a surprise experience that they can look forward to during that particular month.

Here’s a glimpse of what a 12 Months of Experiences Gift might include:

  • January: Ice Skating Adventure – Kick off the year with a delightful ice-skating outing to embrace the winter spirit.
  • February: Homemade Pizza Night – Plan a cozy night in, making personalized pizzas together as a family.
  • March: Trip to the Local Zoo – Welcome the arrival of spring with a visit to the zoo to see adorable animals.
  • April: Nature Hike and Picnic – Enjoy the blooming flowers and fresh air with a family hike and picnic in the park.
  • May: Movie Night Under the Stars – Set up an outdoor movie night with blankets and popcorn for a magical experience.
  • June: Beach Day Getaway – Hit the beach for a sun-soaked day of sandcastles and splashing in the waves.
  • July: Camping Adventure – Pack up the tents and head into nature for a memorable camping trip.
  • August: DIY Science Experiments – Conduct exciting science experiments at home for a day of learning and fun.
  • September: Apple Picking – Visit an orchard and enjoy apple picking with the family.
  • October: Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza – Get ready for Halloween with a pumpkin carving contest.
  • November: Family Game Night – Enjoy a night of board games and laughter together.
  • December: Holiday Lights Tour – End the year with a festive tour of the best Christmas lights in town.

The best part of the 12 Months of Experiences Gift is that it keeps the holiday spirit alive all year round. 

Each month brings something new and exciting to look forward to, and it encourages quality time spent together as a family. 

Plus, it allows you to get creative and plan experiences that cater to the recipient’s interests and the changing seasons.

So, if you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, the 12 Months of Experiences Gift is a wonderful way to create lasting memories and fill every month with love, joy, and shared adventures. 

Just imagine the excitement and anticipation on their faces as they open each envelope and discover the magic that awaits them! 

How do you gift experiences for kids for Christmas?

I get it, gifting experiences for kids at Christmas can seem weird. 

Shouldn’t they be unwrapping some fun beautiful gift? 

So, how do you do actually gift experience gifts? 

Here’s a few options: 

  • Purchase gift cards or gift certificates for specific experiences (like music lessons, dance classes, or a day at the amusement park) and let them finalize all the details from there
  • You can plan an entire outing or activity, like a family camping trip, a visit to the local zoo, or even an indoor skydiving adventure! The possibilities are endless, and it all depends on what the little ones would enjoy most.

I recommend presenting the gift in a beautiful and fun card that still feels special and exciting to open. 

Here’s how you can avoid it looking like any old card:

  • Add glitz and glitter to make the card look extra special
  • Include the tickets or gift certificate inside
  • Make your own “gift certificate” or “coupon” for the experience that’ll take place if you don’t have a physical one
  • If it’s for little ones, print a picture of of the experience and add that to the card so they SEE what they’ll be getting to do

The Benefits & Why Gifting Experiences is Better

Now, let’s talk about why gifting experiences is such a great idea.

Experiences offer quality time with loved ones, encouraging stronger family bonds and creating shared memories. 

They also provide opportunities for kids to learn new skills, build confidence, and discover new interests. 

Unlike material gifts that often lose their appeal and fill up your home, experiences stay with them forever, cherished in their hearts for years to come.

And you know what else? 

Experience gifts tend to be clutter-free – a huge pain point for many of us parents.

Say goodbye to the days of having a living room packed with toys and gadgets that are barely touched. 

With experiences, you won’t have to worry about adding more stuff to an already overflowing toy chest or playroom. Instead, you’ll be giving the gift of adventure, exploration, and joy.

The Negatives of Experience Gifts

Let’s be real here—no gift is perfect, and experience gifts do have a few downsides that are important to point out.

One of the potential negatives is that not all experiences might be equally enjoyable for every child. While one might adore a day at the amusement park, another might prefer something more artsy or low-key. 

It’s essential to consider the recipient’s interests and preferences when choosing an experience gift.

Moreover, some experience gifts might require time and coordination to plan, especially if they involve specific events or activities with limited availability. So, you might need to put in a bit more effort compared to just purchasing a ready-made toy or gadget.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that some experiences, depending on their nature, might come with additional costs. For example, an annual membership to a museum might be an amazing gift, but it could also involve transportation expenses or extra fees for special events.

In the end, while experience gifts offer a host of incredible benefits, it’s always good to weigh the pros and cons to ensure you’re giving the most suitable and enjoyable gift to the recipient (while respecting their parents and their wishes). 

FAQs

Do kids appreciate experience gifts?

You can probably picture how a 5 year old would react if they got a card with some words on it while their sibling got a HUGE shiny new race track. 

Ugh. 

This is another situation where experience gifts can be tricky. 

Kids DO appreciate experience gifts, but younger children may not really see their allure until they’re actually experiencing it. Kids really do love spending quality time with their loved ones, trying new activities, and exploring the world around them, but it’s always hard when they don’t see the immediate fun of the gift they’ve been given.

So what can you do? 

​If more than one child is present and both are getting experience gifts, have them open them at the same time. You could also include pictures and visuals that show the great experience that they’re going to have so they can better picture what they get to do.

That said, older kids are likely to have a much more positive reaction. 

For instance, teenagers are more likely to be super excited at a pair of concert tickets as soon as they open them. 

How do you ask for experience rather than gifts?

Now, if you’re wondering how to ask for experience gifts instead of material gifts, it’s all about communication and sharing your wishes with family and friends. 

Here are some gentle and considerate ways to do it:

  1. Share Your Interests: Talk about your interests and passions with your loved ones. Let them know about activities or places you’d love to explore or experiences you’ve always wanted to try. This gives them a clear idea of what you’d enjoy.
  2. Focus on Quality Time: Emphasize the importance of spending quality time together as a family. Explain how experiences strengthen bonds and create beautiful memories that last a lifetime.
  3. Be Specific: If there are particular experiences you have in mind, don’t be afraid to mention them. For example, you could say, “This year for Christmas, instead of gifts, I’d love to take the kids on a family camping trip” or “John has always wanted to take cooking classes, we think it’d be a great gift idea for him this year.”
  4. Suggest Group Gifting: If some experiences come with a higher price tag, you can suggest the idea of group gifting. Multiple family members or friends can contribute to make the experience possible.
  5. Write a Heartfelt Letter: Consider writing a heartfelt letter to your loved ones, expressing your desire for experiences that bring you closer as a family. Personal touches can make a big impact.
  6. Provide Resources: Offer information or links to websites where they can find various experience gift options. This makes it easier for them to choose something that aligns with your interests.
  7. Express Gratitude: When they do gift you an experience, be sure to show genuine appreciation. Let them know how much you enjoyed it and how special it made you feel.
  8. Lead by Example: If you have children, lead by example and give experience gifts to others. When your family sees the joy these gifts bring to others, they might be more inclined to give them as well.

Remember, communication is key. 

Be open and honest about your desire for experience gifts, and don’t be discouraged if some people still prefer to give material presents – it’s a hard idea for some to let go of. 

The most important thing is that they’re expressing their love and care for you, no matter the form the gift takes. 

Experience Gift Ideas for Kids Instead of Toys

The beauty of experience gifts is that they provide quality time and the chance to try new things, all while reducing the amount of stuff cluttering up the house. 

Plus, they cater to kids of all ages, from the littlest ones to the more adventurous older children.

So, why not break away from the typical material gifts and give the kids in your life something truly special this Christmas? 

Choose from these fantastic experience gifts, and you’ll be the favorite gift-giver this holiday season! 

Happy gifting!

🎥 Check out the Web Story for Experience Gift Ideas for Kids for Christmas here!

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