Experience Gifts For toddlers, Tweens, Teens, Families
If you have kids, you’re surrounded by stuff of all sizes. Books, toys, and random trinkets litter our floors. It makes gift giving difficult. On the one hand, you want to see your kids’ faces light up. On the other, you’d like to stop drowning in stuff.
So, let’s do BOTH! In today’s article, you’ll find experience gifts for kids that make unforgettable memories.
What are experience gifts?
And how are they different? For starters, unlike junky plastic toys, they have lots of benefits.
Experience gifts give kids…
They help kids branch out and try new things. It’s possible they’ll find a new passion through one of these gifts.
Strengthen Family Relationships
Many experience gifts for kids are done as a family. This builds connection and love within your family dynamic.
Give Kids A Boost
By learning a new skill or subject, their confidence and self-esteem will increase.
Make Your Family Happier
In a recent study done by the University of Texas, researchers found that consumers are happier when they spend money are experiences versus material goods (Science Daily).
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How to Give an Experience Gift to Kids
Now, this is wonderful news! BUT I have noticed a problem when using kids experience gifts in my home. I still want my kids to have fun opening a gift. Unwrapping a piece of paper isn’t exciting.
That’s why I include ideas for what to wrap as well. Choose items you already have at home, or make a small purchase. Either way, you’ll have a blast in the moment of gift giving AND using the gift to build memories later too!
Best Experience Gifts for Toddlers & Elementary Kids
Free Experience Gift Ideas For Kids
When kids are young, it’s not always worth it to spend money on your gift experiences. Start with one of these crowd pleasers first.
1. Park & Picnic
- Wrap: a fun lunch spread & drinks
Coupons are incredibly versatile. Give them a chore pass, extra screen time, staying up late, a fort day, and more.
- Wrap: make a fun coupon book or put coupons in a jar (Use easy free coupons here)
3. Frisbee Golf
- Wrap: frisbees
4. Splash Pad
- Wrap: swimsuits, snacks, popsicles
5. Movie Night at Home
- Wrap “tickets,” popcorn, and drinks
6. A Free Local Event
Go to a concert in the park, high school sporting event, or another community outing.
- Wrap: a t-shirt with the local team or band on it
7. A Trip to a Faraway Playground
- Wrap: snacks and drinks
8. A Trip to a New Cool Library
- Wrap: their own library card
9. Gift Certificates to Monthly Family Hikes
- Wrap: trail map, hiking shoes, backpack, trail mix
Cheap Fun For Kids
These kids experience gifts cost a little bit of money but have incredible value for the price.
1. A Cooking Day With Kids
- Wrap: A kids cooking set
2. Starting a Garden
3. Craft/Art Day With Friends
- Wrap: paints, glue, craft materials, coloring utensils, craft set, etc.
4. Trip to Chuck E. Cheese
- Wrap: the tokens
5. Petting Zoo Passes
- Wrap: snacks and money to feed the animals (a wagon is fun if you’re willing to splurge on a bigger item)
6. Exploration Experience Day For Children
7. Karaoke Night
- Wrap: a karaoke machine and a list of your favorite songs
8. Dance Party
- Wrap: a disco ball and a list of songs
9. Science Experiment Day
One year, I gifted a box of homemade science experiments to my son. I had all the ingredients and notecards with what to do. It was a HUGE hit.
- Wrap: Find cool experiments for this here >>
10. A Monthly Card in the Mail
Kids LOVE real mail. If you can spare the cost of 12 cards and a stamp, you’ll make the day of a child by sending them regular cards. Add a crossword puzzle or pictures for extra fun.
- Wrap: A note describing the gift and telling them to go look in their mailbox for the first card.
Subscriptions For Kids
Subscriptions are gifts that give year-round. For these, I give you ideas for what to wrap. OR make your life simple and wrap the first box that comes in the subscription.
1. Cooking Box
- Wrap: a chef hat
- Wrap: an interactive globe
- Wrap: wooden blocks
4. STEM Box
We’ve enjoyed KiwiCrate
- Wrap: legos
5. Baking Box
- Wrap: baking dishes
6. Highlights Subscription
- Wrap: the first magazine
Note: Subscriptions can overwhelm you with stuff. I recommend starting with a shorter period and designating a "leftover box" for supplies you can play with again later.
Family Experience Gift Ideas
The following ideas make for great ideas the family enjoys together.
Memberships Everyone Will Love
These experience gifts for kids give everyone something to look forward to. And they help you get out when you’d otherwise be stuck inside.
- Wrap: a shark book & goldfish snacks
- Wrap: a stuffed animal, animal book, and animal crackers
3. Science Center
- Wrap: new shoes for lots of walking, a science book
4. Trampoline Park
- Wrap: new non-stick socks & water bottle
5. Amusement Park
- Wrap: a fanny pack with treats
6. Botanical Garden/Arboretum
- Wrap: a gardening set
7. Outdoor Waterpark
- Wrap: a swimsuit, money to spend at the park
8. YMCA or Community Center Membership
- Wrap: activewear clothes and accessories
9. City Pool Membership
10. Indoor Playground
These playgrounds are helpful in the hot and cold months, and usually come at a discounted membership price.
- Wrap: tennis shoes, snacks
Tickets and Gift Cards
1. Baseball Game
Or choose another sporting event like football, soccer, or tennis.
- Wrap: a baseball hat or team shirt, ballgame snacks like sunflower seeds
3. Live Shows
(Disney on Ice, Sesame Street Live, Monster Jam)
- Wrap: glow wands for show & theme shirt
- Wrap: soundtrack or iTunes gift card
- Wrap: an outfit to wear the night of the event
6. Comic Con
- Wrap: a fun lanyard & pins for passes
7. A Museum
We have several kids museums in the area that are hands-on and sensory-based. If they’re older, take them to a cool art exhibit.
- Wrap: extra tickets for your child to invite a friend, a themed item similar to the museum (blank painting canvas, marble run, etc.)
8. Ballet Tickets
10. Factory Tour
- Wrap: the item the factory highlights (marbles, chocolate, etc.)
11. An outing to their favorite restaurant
- Wrap: a gift card to a restaurant
12. An outing to find their favorite books
13. Children’s Theater Tickets
- Wrap: tickets, information about the play/musical, themed item from the specific play
14. Tickets to a Magic Show
Adventure Gifts for Kids
2. Indoor Water Park
- Wrap: swimsuit, flip flops, swim towel
3. Night in a Hotel
- Wrap: pajamas, swimsuit (if there’s a pool), kids bathrobe
4. Spa Day
- Wrap: slippers, robe, nail polish, face masks
5. Arcade Day
- Wrap: tokens/tickets to use, snacks
6. Shopping & Lunch
- Wrap: a new purse and lunch money
7. Ice Cream & Movie
- Wrap: movie snacks and the movie listings
8. Fishing Tournament
- Wrap: a fishing pole, bait, and a box
9. Water Adventures
Try kayaking and paddle boating. Or learn to sail together.
- Wrap: water shoes, outdoor outfit, hat
10. Hiking Adventure
- Wrap: hiking boots, walking stick, a backpack full of snacks/trail mix
Active Gifts for Kids
1. Horseback Riding
- Wrap: a cowboy hat, riding jeans
2. Indoor Rock Climbing
- Wrap: chalk for your hands, activewear clothing
3. Go Kart
- Wrap: racing gloves
4. Mini Golf
- Wrap: golf shorts & hat
5. Daddy/Daughter Night or Mommy/Me Day
- Wrap: a fancy outfit for dinner out, bowtie, corsage, etc
6. Build a Treehouse
This is a great active gift if your child helps build it. But even if you do it yourself, it’s a fun way to build anticipation.
- Wrap: wood, tools, building materials, snacks for a work break
7. Build a Toolbench
- Wrap: wood, hooks to hang tools, and tools for your child
- Wrap: ski passes, ski attire
9. Ice Skating
- Wrap: hot chocolate packs, gloves
10. Roller Skating
- Wrap: roller skates
- Wrap: money for snacks, custom bowling shoes, bowling ball
12. Batting cages
- Wrap: a baseball bat and helmet
13. Surfing lessons
- Wrap: a surfboard, a wet suit
Gifts to Wrap That Encourage Experiences
These are active gifts you wrap and double as meaningful experiences and ways to keep your child active and outside.
1. Outdoor Obstacle Course Set
4. Rope Climbing (or Jump Rope)
5. Basketball Hoop
8. Outdoor Play Equipment
This includes swings, slides, water tables, etc.
9. Pogo Stick
*Related Post: Best Gifts For Outdoorsy Kids
Unique Family Ideas
Next, these family experience gifts get creative.
1. Paying to Stream Disney or Netflix
- Wrap: A list of movies/shows they’d love to watch, snacks, and drinks
2. Game Night Gift Basket
- Wrap: new games (find great game night ideas by age), snacks, drinks, an invitation to when your game night will be, and a pad of paper and pencil
3. Helicopter Ride
4. Boat Ride
- Wrap: A boating hat, sunscreen
5. Train Ride
- Wrap: his/her own piece of luggage to bring
6. Fruit Picking
- Wrap: insect repellent, gloves, wet wipes
7. Movie Night Kit:
- Wrap: favorite classic movies or a list of movies to stream, snacks, drinks, a blanket
8. Outdoor Movie Night:
Experience Gifts for Tweens and Teens
Classes Kids Love
1. Drawing Class
- Wrap: pencils and a drawing pad
2. Painting Class
- Wrap: paints and brushes
- Wrap: a leotard and matching hair scrunchie
4. Martial Arts
- Wrap: hand and feet wrap
5. Cooking Class
- Wrap: an apron and kitchen utensils
- Wrap: goggles, swimsuit, swim towel
7. Jewelry Making
8. Rosetta Stone Classes
- Wrap: Spanish crosswords, Italian dictionary, Rick Steves Germany book, etc.
9. Music Lessons
- Wrap: a guitar pick, music sheets, instrument case
10. Dance Classes
Try ballet, hip hop, etc.
- Wrap: clothing and shoes that fit the dance style
Unique Experience Gift Ideas For Teens
These ideas work best for older kids. They make for unique gifts they’ll adore.
1. Subscription to a Meditation App
2. Subscription to a Workout App
Make taking care of their bodies easier.
3. A Language Learning App
4. A Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
- Wrap: a jacket, sunglasses, camera
5. Indoor Skydiving Experience Gift For Kids
- Wrap: pictures of skydiving, clothes for the event
6. Donation to their College Fund
Or a vacation with friends, a car fund, etc.
- Wrap: a picture and a few accessories for what they’re saving for
7. Gift card to a Nail Salon
- Wrap: the gift card, and a new nail polish
8. Historical Tour at a Local Place (Haunted house, etc.)
- Wrap: information about the history of that place, a themed movie (haunted house movie, documentary, etc.)
9. Broadway Tickets (or Off-Broadway Tickets)
- Wrap: the tickets, a nice outfit to wear, related movie
10. Coupons for Teens
- Wrap: Give them coupons to use for special privileges: staying out later with friends, filling up the gas tank to their car, a pass on chores, etc. See a blank coupon template here to make your own.
11. Escape Room Gift Card (or Tickets)
- Wrap: a riddle they have to figure out to know what the gift is
12. Pottery, Ceramic, or Wood Making class
- Wrap: A canvas or piece of wood to bring
13. Audible Gift Card
14. Kindle Gift Card
15. Spotify or Music Gift Card
16. Tea or Dessert at a Fancy Restaurant
- Wrap: a tea time hat, tea pot with tea, or fancy outfit
17. Chocolate Tasting
- Wrap: fancy chocolates
18. Tickets to Paintball
- Wrap: paintball gear
19. Tickets to the Symphony
- Wrap: a fancy outfit
20. Tickets to a Comedy Show
- Wrap: a joke book
21. A Room Makeover
- Wrap: a gift card to a home store for them to pick out, paint samples, or the actual items (lamp, bedspread, pillows, etc.)
22. A Reading Nook
Like the room makeover idea, give your tween or teen a corner to re-decorate for reading.
- Wrap: twinkle lights, bookmarks, a bookstore or home goods gift card, paint color samples, lamp, etc.
Travel Experience Gifts for the Family
Next, these experiences are family vacations that your kids will remember for a lifetime.
- Wrap: Mickey ears
2. Universal Studios
- Wrap: a Harry Potter Wand and Hogwarts sorting house quiz
3. Beach Vacation
- Wrap: water toys
- Wrap: car activities, map
5. Flying on an Airplane
- Wrap: luggage or luggage tags
6. National Parks Annual Pass
- Wrap: maps and Become a Park Ranger Activities online
- Wrap: a small lego set
8. Seaworld: Experience Day For Children
- Wrap: sea animal bath toys or stuffed animals
9. An International Trip
- Wrap: Food from the country you will be visiting, the country marked on a map, culture or language book
10. Whale Watching
11. Tickets to a Novel Event
Try something new and get tickets to the Kentucky Derby, a major Nascar race, etc.
- Wrap: A hat or earmuffs that fit with the event, themed shirt
Cool Gifts to Charity
And finally, these gifts help kids think outside of themselves too. Let them be the ones who give the money and fill out the paperwork so that they feel amazing doing something good for the world.
To Consider With Family Gifts of Experience
Don’t forget to document these beautiful experiences with custom photo albums and calendars. This allows you to live your moments with the kids again and again. (It also helps pass the cabin fever winters!)
And if you’re looking for more gift-giving ideas that are not junk, head over to this big list of kids gifts that are not toys for practical and meaningful ideas.
What has been your favorite experience gifts for kids? Leave a comment below!
Other kids posts you’ll love…
- Good Clean Dares for Kids: Family Truth or Dare that will knock your socks off!
- Good Behavior Rewards for Kids: Easy non-candy ideas.
- Short Bedtime Stories Kids Love: 5-minute books and stories.