Looking for an experience gift for kids?
I love a good open-ended toy as much as the rest of us, and I also crave more family time. I seek experience gifts for kids that I can hold onto as the years go by.
Sometimes the best intentions of being all together can quickly get washed away by a conference call, due dates, or even worse – laundry. I know you get it. I have a pile a mile high on my bed right now.
Wouldn’t it be easier to find a list with all the unforgettable experience gifts in ONE PLACE?
Guess what, friends? You’ve found the right corner of the web. Here, I have experience gift ideas for your family to put aside the laundry and designate a time to all be together enjoying life.
What are good experience gifts for families?
Think back to your childhood, and you’ll probably remember an event.
Sure, the Cabbage Patch Dolls will always have a place in my heart.
But the Summer Camp I was gifted by my great-grandmother? That’s the gift that changed my path and allowed me to test my independence. My great-grandmother and I bonded over my love for making new friends, and the fun I had at camp thanks to her thoughtfulness. I am pretty sure that experience helped me stand a little taller as I walked into the fourth grade.
Or perhaps it was that swim team I belonged to and the excitement I felt when my family was cheering me on from the sidelines. Or family movie nights before we knew that an entire stick of butter might not be the best popcorn topping.
Each year, I craved this type of experience to feel complete-to build that “family island” as the movie Inside Out refers to it.
So this year, we will carry on the tradition of family experiences and put some new activities on the calendar.
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What makes a good experience gift?
- Create a memory.
- Encourage creativity.
- Fulfill a wish.
- Pursue a passion.
- Invite a family to discoveries.
- Share the gift-giver’s skills with the recipient.
- Give a sense of exploration.
Experience gifts do not have to be lavish! They simply have to create a new memory for the kids and family to enjoy together.
Experience Gifts for Kids
To make gift-giving a little easier for you, I created two simple categories.
Gifts to Enjoy at Home
Gifts to Enjoy Outside of the Home
Experience gifts to enjoy when staying at home
Start a Family Tradition
Is there a family ritual you want to start before dinnertime?
Spend some time thinking about a family tradition you would like to create for the new year. Write it down so it becomes a habit. Anything goes! Super simple ideas work best.
Some ideas for family traditions are:
- Monday post-dinner walks
- Saturday movie night
- Reading books before bedtime
- Field Trip Fridays
- Picnic Tuesdays
- Breakfast Invitations
- Saturday Donut Day
Remember to write it down and say it aloud. Put ownership and accountability in the new family tradition.
Charades is a classic game that always seems to get everyone laughing. We had a blast playing this game for my son’s sixth birthday. Such an entertaining way to create a family game night ritual, along with improving social and vocabulary skills.
My middle child refers to himself as Nature Man, so we gave him several adoptions. He pretty much sleeps with an animal from each habitat.
Choose from a large collection of animals and adoption options. Most come with a certificate and plush animal. This is such a sweet gift for your animal lover.
Not sure how to start? This time capsule will begin to document those memories that have already been created but not yet written down. This gift set allows you to interview family and friends and imagine the future. This time capsule gift set is something our family will be using this holiday season!
My boys play some epic spy games with these walkie-talkies. When in hand, they are in full-on imaginary play mode. This set comes with three walkie-talkies in the colors shown above.
Set up a Tent in your Backyard
Bring on the marshmallows and flashlights – walkie-talkies are optional to upgrade the experience. Include favorite blankets and new books to read before bedtime after watching the stars. An enjoyable way to get ready for camping away from the home in the future. My boys have a blast camping in the backyard.
My friend Jen at Mama Papa Bubba makes these boxes for her children to celebrate special days. Each card has a simple description of where they are going, or what they will do together at home. This is such a thoughtful gift that can be done for just about anyone in your family!
This experience gift is delivered once per month and a fun way for kids ages 4-7 to find hidden pictures. Highlights offer fun with a purpose!
Our six-year-old toy list has some excellent games that make a thrilling family game night. Order the pizza, and cozy up on the couch for a night of bonding and fun!
One question a day for three years? Now that sounds like a keepsake!
This is a book for parents and children that want to share the evolution of ideas and feelings over the years. It can also be used as a journal for kids who want to keep a time capsule of their own ideas.
Is everyone staying in due to piles of laundry that need to be folded, or dishes in the sink? Hiring a housecleaner for an hour or two is a great way to set aside daily obstacles and head to that new outdoor park.
Each KidArtLit box includes a new hardback picture book and a process-based art project with supplies. Each box has enough supplies for two children.
You can pick between two delivery sizes to fit your family’s needs. Choose from the Spark box, Deluxe box, or the Art Spark Kit. Inside each box, you will also find illustrated guides to help you through each project.
Each month you’ll receive up to five experiments and art projects that promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning. Easy to follow instructions will guide your young learner through every project to make the learning process exciting and fun. This kit is ages 5+ and there is also a junior box for ages 2-4.
Boxes are designed by the Green Kid Craft Team of scientists and parents and tested by kids. They are non-toxic, recyclable, carbon-neutral, sustainable, and Made in the U.S.A.! Green Kid Crafts plants one tree in your name for each order placed.
Find and Seek Scavenger Hunt has a collection of colorful cards to take outside and discover nature. With 35 Find and Seek cards, 2 instruction cards, and 1 drawstring bag, this is also a great game for travel. Nonreaders can play with picture recognition.
Make a Family Album
Have more photos on your computer than you do in your home? I do and need to make time to create a family album.
Gift a family album to grandparents, or if you like this idea for yourself, spend one-on-one time with each child picking their favorite ten photos from the year past. Family albums are a great way to generate conversation about what memories resonated.
Nothing beats someone taking the time to upload them all into a printed book for your family to smile over as they take a trip down memory lane.
Watch the transformation from caterpillars to butterflies in your own home! This butterfly kit includes five baby caterpillars, a pop-up, reusable mesh habitat, a chrysalis station log, and a flower-shaped butterfly feeder. We have done this with our family, and it is a huge hit.
Have Ice Cream Delivered
We are a nut-free family that loves to be gifted ice cream from A-La-Mode. The ice cream is delicious, and it is so exciting to find on our doorstep! It is one of the very few brands that are made in a nut-free factory.
Experiences to Enjoy Away from the Home
This year, experiences outside of the home have been pretty limiting. The following locations are suggestions. Please look into the specific guidelines each destination has put in place.
Find a Pump Track
We like to find local pump tracks to elevate bike rides! This is an area with small hills to ride around a circle. Do a quick search for a pump track near me and see if you have one nearby.
Lend a Hand
Is there someone that can use a little extra help? Maybe you are great at washing cars, can zip through the grocery store, or can get a crying baby to sleep?
Think about a way you can share your talents and lend a hand to someone that can use your help.
Teach a Skill
Like lending a hand, maybe there is someone who is looking to build a website or hem a pair of pants. Can you help? Make a coupon for your services on the back of a notecard and gift it to someone that wants to learn more!
Plan a Trip
I know that this year, trips have been few and far between. But maybe, just maybe, we can think about places to go or people to see very soon.
Gifting a weekend away to a family can allow them to focus on being there, rather than getting there. This Road Trip with Kids post will help get your ideas flowing!
Include a travel guide for:
Grab your camera and walk right out the door. The camera is durable for drops, and images are able to be uploaded onto the computer. *note: This camera does come with games that can be turned off in the parent’s settings.
Head to the National Park Service website and find a trail for the family to explore. You can gift this with a new pair of hiking boots or binoculars.
Hike it Baby will develop hiking experiences for families to inspire outdoor adventure.
Another great idea that may have some special requirements this year.
When swim lessons are available again, they make a fantastic gift for all ages. It improves water safety, along with helping strengthen large muscles in the body.