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50 Exciting Experience Gifts for Kids as Alternatives to Toys

The holiday season is fast approaching, and it’s time to start thinking about gifts. We all know that kids often want new toys or gadgets for Christmas, but experience gifts for kids are a great alternative!

Experience gifts bring the child closer to nature with outdoor adventures or allow them to explore their hobbies in new ways. Read on to discover some unique experience gift ideas for kids this year.

Experience gifts for kids

Why Experience Gifts For Kids Are A Great Option

There is no doubt that kids love new toys or the latest trending gadget targeting children! Given the chance, most kids would spend most of their pocket money on new toys too.

And research shows that material gifts do bring great joy to kids, yet their appreciation for experiential gifts grows with age.

Experience gifts allow them to do something they’ve never done before, whether it’s exploring a new hobby or spending time with their family in the great outdoors.

For younger children, experience gifts open up worlds of exploration and so much fun that can last into adulthood!

There are other benefits of giving kids experience gifts too:

  • They don’t add to existing toy clutter
  • Kids won’t grow out of them like they do toys and gadgets
  • They encourage kids to get out of their comfort zone and try new things
  • They are better for the environment by creating less future landfill
  • Hands on activity can improve fine and gross motor skills
  • They help you improve your bond with your child!

In the end, kids won’t remember that fancy toy or game you bought for them. They will remember the time you spent with them.

Kevin Heath

Tips For Choosing The Best Experience Gifts

There are so many potential birthday or Christmas experience gifts for kids and choosing can be a little overwhelming!

If you are trying to minimise having too much stuff come into your home on Christmas morning, or just want something different to gift, there are options for every child.

Here are a few quick tips for choosing the best experience gift for your child:

  • Consider your child’s interests – Find experience gifts that match these!
  • Their interest or yours? – Make sure you’re choosing a gift they would love to do and not just something you wish they were interested in.
  • Ask first – If you are gifting an experience to a child that is not your own child, make sure you confirm with their parents that it’s a suitable idea first.
  • The cost – They can be expensive, but don’t have to be! Think outside the box.
  • A mix of both – A combination of physical gifts and experiences is a great option for younger kids.

Alright, let’s check out some awesome experience gifts for boys & girls!

Fun Experience Gifts For Kids

Kids learning science

The great outdoors is one of the ultimate places to enjoy unique experiences! And for older kids, experience gifts for kids can be the perfect opportunity to spend time with them doing something new.

But there are plenty of options that don’t take you outdoors as well while still having an adventure away from home!

Our favourite experience booking websites are GetYourGuide and Viator. Both have loads of local attractions for all around the world plus unique experiences and encounters that you can book instantly.

Check out these indoor & outdoor experience gifts for children:

  • Theme park passes – Who doesn’t love visiting the local amusement park? Get a day pass or an annual pass for their favourite theme park. This also makes a great family experience gift idea.
  • Music lessons – If there is an instrument they have been wanting to learn, music classes are the perfect way to begin or improve their existing skill level.
  • Local zoo visit – Any animal lover would love a day visit to the local zoo or if they have the option, make it an annual family membership so you can visit often.
  • Water park passes – An outdoor or indoor water park is a fun experience for most kids and perfect for cooling down over the summer months!
  • Swimming lessons – Swim lessons are both life-saving and a form of fun and fitness for children.
  • Special events – If there is an upcoming special event, such as a funfair, a festival or an exhibition, this is a perfect gift for kids who are wanting to come. You could give them spending money for the day as a bonus gift.
  • Dance lessons – Dancing lessons are something a lot of kids love, teaching them new skills and a chance to make new friends too.
  • Summer camp – If you live in North America, summer camp is hugely popular and gifting your child a stay at the summer camp they’ve been asking to go to is a great way to give them something they really want.
  • Broadway Show or theatre – Kids who love music and theatre would enjoy a trip to see a live show they have been wanting to attend.
  • Concert – A first concert or festival can be a lot of fun. There are many concerts that target a younger audience too. Make sure you choose one that is age-appropriate.
  • Children’s Museum – A visit to the local children’s museum or art gallery can be a lot of fun, especially if there is a special exhibit happening.
  • Hot air balloon ride – Older children who aren’t afraid of heights will find this incredible experience something truly memorable.
  • Sporting event – Take them to watch a game of their favourite sports team playing or to experience a new sport they aren’t as familiar with. You might even be able to get season passes to enjoy together.
  • Sport membership – Pay for a season pass or annual memberships of a sport they have been wanting to play, such as soccer, football, tennis or martial arts.
  • Movie tickets – One or more movie tickets or an actual cinema trip to see a film they want to watch. Don’t forget the popcorn!
  • Art lessons – Give your kids the chance to learn art skills or participate in a make and take art project.
  • Ice skating or roller skating – Hire some skates and hit the rink for a fun active experience. Even more exciting if you can visit an outdoor ice skating rink during winter!
  • Skiing or snowboarding lesson – If there is a ski slope nearby, take them for one-on-one lessons to give them the best experience possible.
  • Science Centre – Visit a science centre for fun and educational experiences galore.
  • Wildlife encounter – If your child has a favourite animal, this is a truly special experience that many local zoos or nature reserves offer. Note that they often have a minimum age limit for wildlife encounter experiences though.
  • Arcade visit – Give your child an amount to spend at the arcade or purchase a game package so they can enjoy a day of arcade games and video games.
  • Water sports – Older kids may love to learn a new water sport such as kayaking, canoeing or surfing.
  • Horseback riding – So many little girls (and boys) dream of owning a horse so a horseback riding lesson is one of the best ways to make this a little bit of a reality.
  • Snorkelling – Snorkeling experiences are a wonderful way for older kids who are confident swimmers to explore beneath the ocean. They won’t forget that experience in a hurry!
  • Movie making or acting workshop – Give your child the opportunity to attend a drama program! This is an experience that will teach them valuable life skills too.
  • Gift certificate – If you’re not sure what kid experiences they would most love, a gift voucher that allows them to choose their own gift experiences is a perfect solution!
  • Salon or hair voucher – A chance to get pampered is an experience many kids love and this way they can choose their own pamper experiences.
  • Personalised coupon book – Create your own coupon book with activities your kids will love that they can redeem when they like, such as a visit to the park, ice cream parlour, play a board game, movie night etc. You can get plenty of other activities from these advent activity ideas.
  • Indoor rock climbing – Get active and challenge yourselves with an indoor rock climbing experience. The kid will feel like superheroes afterwards!
  • Trampoline park – Take them for an energetic day out to the local trampoline park to bounce out some energy.
  • Indoor skydiving – You probably aren’t in any hurry to have your child jump out of a plane but indoor skydiving is an exciting activity for all ages and completely safe.

The Best Experience Gifts For Kids For Home

Kiwico atlas crate

If you’re unable to venture far from home or if you want a simple option to bring fun experiences into your home, thankfully there are plenty of experience gifts kids can enjoy from home! In fact, you would be surprised just how many fun activities to do at home there are!

Check out these home experience gift ideas:

  • Virtual escape room – Kids love to solve puzzles and this is a perfect game for the family to try at home. Some even allow you to join in with other families virtually.
  • Online classes – Kids can learn to bake, draw, play instruments, learn languages and almost everything else via online classes from home.
  • Educational subscription boxes – Monthly subscription boxes are loaded with fun activities kids can do at home. Try a Kiwi Crate or My Creative Box.
  • Travel subscription boxes – Learn about the world with fun travel-themed projects to complete at home. Check out Little Passports and KiwiCo Atlas Crate.
  • Outdoor movie night – Hire or buy your own projector and set up an outdoor cinema night at home.
  • Cooking subscription box – A monthly foodie mystery box is a fun surprise for kids of all ages to open up at home with all types of tools and recipes to try.

Experience Gifts For Toddlers and Younger Children

Preschool aged child playing with sensory board

Experience gifts for toddlers are a little trickier for toddlers since they can’t do as much to explore the great outdoors and are restricted by many of the experiences that are suited to older kids.

But the best part of gifting anything to toddlers and younger kids is that they typically aren’t as material as older kids and they will find great joy in spending time together

Check out these experience gift ideas for toddlers:

  • Play centre – Visit an indoor play centre for some fun that won’t be impacted by rainy days or hot weather.
  • Visit the local park – A simple play at the playground is a delight even for the youngest kids!
  • Ice cream date – Take them for a visit to the local ice cream parlour for a special treat they will love.
  • Day out to a local farm – Kids love animals and most farms have an array of creatures kids will be fascinated by.
  • Pony ride – Visit a local business or event that offers pony rides for kids of all ages.
  • Childen’s gallery – Many art galleries have a children’s gallery with simple, creative activities catering to toddlers and younger children.
  • Scavenger hunt – Scavenger hunts are a great way to explore the outdoors and learn as you go. Make your own scavenger hunt list and set out on an adventure around town or your own backyard!

Family Experience Gift Ideas

Kids kayaking

Experience gifts for families are perfect for spending quality time together! This is a great option if you are looking for a great gift for the whole family.

Family experience gifts are perfect for bringing an entire family together for quality time and new memories or traditions.

Many of the ideas above work just as well for family experiences, but here are a few extra ideas that can bring the whole family together:

  • Mystery family picnic – Visit new places and try local food and drink as you solve clues on your way to your mystery picnic location. Check out AmazingCo. We’ve done their mystery family experience and it was so fun!
  • Beach day – Take some time away from home and spend an afternoon at the beach. Some experience gifts don’t have to cost a thing!
  • Family trip – Take the family on a vacation as the ultimate family experience gift idea.
  • Family camping trip – If you have kids that love the great outdoors, what better way to treat yourselves than a family camping trip!
  • Escape room – For kids who love games, escape rooms are a great option for children above the age of ten and a fun way to solve a puzzle together as a family.
  • National Parks pass – An annual pass for a national park that the whole family can explore together.
  • Cooking classes – Take the family out of their comfort zone and learn how to cook something new together. This can be done at home or at a cooking school. You could even do cooking lessons via YouTube.
  • Mini golf – Putt putt is a great idea for family time with children of all ages.
  • Family pass to a favourite attraction – If there is somewhere your family already loves to visit, a family pass for the year is one of the best gifts to enjoy together.

For more gift ideas for kids, check out these subscription boxes and this huge list of non-toy gift ideas for kids.

You might like to do some of these fun experiences on Christmas day! Or why not give your child a bedroom makeover instead, such as this cool ocean-themed bedroom style.

There are many options for experience gifts for kids and toddlers to enjoy. Outdoor adventures, exploring new hobbies, and spending time with family members all make excellent alternatives to toys or gadgets. If you’re looking for a unique gift this year, why not gift an experience? You’ll be creating memories your child will cherish forever!

For more fun family experience ideas, check out these fun ideas for things to do on Father’s Day, family activities for Valentine’s Day and screen-free family fun activities.