With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to create a gift guide of experiences, activities, and meaningful items to add to your holiday shopping list. Not all of these items are physical items, so I also have ways to give the gift of an item without having a tangible item to wrap for the kids as well!
We always try to give at least 1-2 experiences or activities, in addition to toys and clothing for the holiday season.
I am not a huge believer in all the toys. I mean, I have shared a post or two on the topic! Instead I love giving meaningful experiences. So I am sharing some of our favorites that we have done over the years. Plus new ideas we are gifting this year!
I am calling an “experience” anything that you have to go to in order to watch or see the gift. These are things from sporting events to concerts to local events near you.
This has been one of my son’s favorite gifts. He loves going to different sporting events with my husband or his grandparents.
A few years ago, he went to a college basketball game with my dad. He loved having quality time with his grandfather and seeing a basketball game. He thought it was the best thing ever!
Night At The Museum
Since we live in Chicago, we have a lot of museums with lots of events.
Our favorite event was a night with the sharks at the Shedd Aquarium. You got to go to the aquarium after everyone else left and walk around, eat dinner in the shark tunnel, and get up-close to all the sea life!
They also offered sleeping over.
I know other local museums have similar events that would be a great experience for the kids’!
You can find local museum events by going to your local museum’s website and searching under events. There are virtual and in-person events that would be fun to attend!
If you are local to Chicago, I have included links to some of our favorite events:
My daughter loves watching plays. So whenever a show comes into town, I try to get tickets for her birthday and the holidays. She loves the entire experience! We will get dinner (or lunch) and go to the show.
My in-laws got Adleigh a gift to see a play at a local children’s theater then took the her to lunch after the show. It was a really special gift she got to share with her grandparents!
If your kiddo is into gaming, there are tons of upcoming events they could attend.
There are local shops that host gaming events as well. Our local gaming store in a mall near us hosts both board game and card game events.
Find out what games your kiddos are into, search “gaming events near me” and see if any would be of interest to them.
Another fun gift idea is to attend a concert of the kiddos’ favorite band or artist.
One of my friends does this with her daughter every year. They attend an outdoor concert to see their favorite band or artist. While these tickets aren’t always available at holiday time, she still will include this in her gift that she can give. Then they have something to look forward to in the summer!
A TikTok follower shared that she also gives her teen money to buy things at the concert in addition to the concert. I love this idea!
My mom has gotten Adleigh a “spa day”. And by “spa day” I mean taking her to get her nails painted. She loves it and gets to go with my mom, making the day even more special.
If the kiddos are older, you can do a mom and daughter or son day with facials and manis/pedis!
Meet + Greet
There has been a few occasions where some of my kids favorite celebrities and authors have come to town for a meet and greet session. And these are great opportunities to gift to your kiddos!
Another idea for gifts is to include their activities in the gift-giving process. Typically it was the grandparents gifting these activities. We have done with for a bunch of activities for the kids. Not only did it help out with costs for things, but every time they went to practice or a game, they knew that their grandparents are supporting them in their sports or camps! It is a nice way for them to feel their grandparents love without having excessive toys around the house.
Some ideas for activities that we have done, and my TikTok followers shared! These are incredible gift ideas:
- Memberships to museums (we had my in-laws gift the kids membership to the Children’s museum in our town)
- After-school clubs
- Enrichment activities (my in-laws gifted my son a class on sharks at a college)
- Mommy (or daddy) and me classes
- Family bowling night
- Pottery place gift certificate
- Studio art classes
- Disneyland annual pass
- Annual pass to local farm
- Pass to skiing
- Pay for camp and gift stationary
- Snow tubing with supplies to go tubing
- Pass for dinner at favorite restaurant
- Zoo memberships
- Dave + Busters loaded gift cards
- Membership to local trampoline park
- Membership to local skate park
- Night at local hotel
Clothing Subscription Box
My in-laws have to give clothing as one of the gifts, so adding a clothing subscription box is a gift that keeps on giving! Each month or season your kiddos can get new clothing! My daughter loves this. Some of my favorite (and my clients favorite) boxes include:
Lego Subscription Box
For Eli’s birthday, my parents got him BrickLoot. It is a Lego subscription box and he loves it! Each month he gets a new box with Lego creations to build all based around a theme. Last month was space. We cannot wait to see what this month brings!
Cooking Subscription Box
One of my clients said she gets her kiddos a cooking subscription box every year. They love to bake, so she has tried a few. These are her suggestions for the best ones:
Amazon offers a book subscription box that can come to your house every 1, 2, or 3 months! Select the age-range and interests and you can get books to read every month!
There is also a company called A Kids Book About that offers subscriptions to new books every month. I love these books because they cover topics that you don’t see in most kids’ books.
And Literati is another subscription box with books for kids 0-9.
Just Like Me is a book subscription box that feature characters of color. You pick your child’s age and plan!
Science Subscription Box
The science subscription boxes are what we are going to be gifting this year. I am debating between a few of these companies, so I will keep you posted for what we decide!
Discovery Subscription Box
When the kids were younger, we gifted them Little Passports. But there are a lot of other worldly subscription boxes! The ones below look really interesting:
Sticker Subscription Box
Pipsticks is my favorite company because it is all stickers! We got Adleigh the sticker book and she will be getting the sticker subscription box too!
Craft Subscription Box
Some other options are:
Baby Toys Subscription Box
Now if you have a baby, buying toys can be overwhelming. So I love these two subscription boxes for baby toys so you don’t have to think about what to buy your baby!
How To Give The Gift
Now the biggest question when giving these types of gifts is how to gift them. It can be tricky to decide how you want to present the gift to your kiddo.
I have some fun ideas that we have done over the years! Sometimes you do have to get creative, but that makes giving these types of gifts more interesting!
Make A Ticket
For any event that includes tickets, we always make paper tickets for the kids.
We use a free program called Canva.com to create tickets. Then we add in team logos, time, and date. This paper ticket will go inside an envelope for the kids to open!
Wrap With Many Layers
Do you remember going to McDonald’s for a birthday party and they had those cookies that were wrapped like a bazillion times in the hamburger wrapper? Then everyone would unwrap one layer until the cookie box was out?
Well, you can do that same idea using a box and lots of tissue paper, wrapping paper, or cloth paper.
Put the gift card or note inside the box. The wrap it a million times with different papers. It makes for a fun time unwrapping!
Load A Gift Card
This idea was shared with a TikTok follower and I loved it! If you are gifting an experience that comes with a card, you can get a pre-loaded card to gift to the kids.
Let’s say your kids love Dave + Busters, so you can get a pre-loaded card to gift to them!
Include With Physical Item
One thing we have done is include an experience with a physical item. For Hanukkah one year, we included a basketball jersey with tickets to a basketball game.
If your kiddos love skate parks, you can get them new wheels with a pass to the local skate park.
A Disney pass can have mouse ears to go along with the pass.
Camp gifts can include stationary, writing utensils, or a new duffle bag!
I remember a family member gifting money by taping dollar bills together and rolling them up. They put the rolled up money in a box that was wrapped with a little bit of a dollar sticking out. So when it was time to unwrap, they just pulled the dollar out of the wrapped box.
But the same can be done with gift cards, notes, or passes. You can create a note on a notecard. Then attach ribbon to the top of the note. Roll up the ribbon around the note. Wrap a box and cut a slit at the top. Make sure that slit is big enough for the note to come out. Stick a little bit of ribbon out slit. And watch your kiddos pull ribbon out of a box!
Another fun thing I have done is turn shoeboxes into whatever theme the gift is. Let’s say you get your kiddos passes to see a pirate exhibit at the local museum. You can turn the shoebox into a pirate treasure with gold coins inside. So when they open the box, they can see the gift with treasure!
My neighbor is the best when it comes to scavenger hunts. She makes one every year for her kids to find their “big present”. You can do the same with an experience. Send the kids on a scavenger hunt around the house. Then you can end the hunt with the gift!
If it is Disney, you can make mouse ear pancakes. If it is a museum, you can have pictures to show.
Get creative with how you can surprise the kids with the gift at the end of the hunt!
More Gift Ideas
Over the years, I have created more holiday gift guides with lots of different toys, experiences, and ideas. Below are a few of my favorite posts that include tons of ideas for different age kiddos!