The holidays are almost upon and what does that mean, yup PRESENTS. However, if your family is anything like mine, there are enough toys in your house, the kids will get plenty more from aunts, uncles and grandparents, so you don’t need to contribute to the toy cache. So what can you buy for Christmas instead of toys? Below, find some ideas for experience gifts for kids to get your mind turning.
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Activity Gift Ideas: At-Home Activity Kits
If your kids love to bake or you want to introduce them to baking in a hassle-free way, then Foodstirs is for you. When Foodstirs was introduced a couple years ago, we were one of the very first families to sign up. I wanted to bake with my daughter, but didn’t have the time to look up recipes that would be easy for her to make. Foodstirs came to my rescue by offering boxes with the majority of ingredients already included. The stuff that I had to get at the store, was usually something simple like plain yogurt. We had a good time making the boxes together and she even started doing some of the stuff on her own.
Mail Order Mystery
We ordered the Treasure Hunt Mail Order Mystery for my daughter about a year ago. She absolutely loved it! She received a packet in the mail once a week for 6 weeks with different clues and activities to do to solve the mystery. She looked forward to getting her packet every week and would rip it open right away. While this gift is a little pricey at $77, kids will love it.
When my daughter was younger she used to get Kiwi Crate. There is just something about getting a package in the mail that kids seem to love. We would do the activities together and they were always a lot of fun. The last couple of years Kiwi Crate has expanded their product line to include a crate for younger kids and one for older kids as well, so this year both kids are getting a subscription; the younger one is being signed up for Koala Crate, which has activities for kids 3-4, and the older one for Tinker Crate, which has engineering based activities for kids 9-16. They also now offer a crate for infants, as well as for older kids who like to draw.
Activity Gift Ideas: Event Tickets
Introducing the littles to some of your favorite sports can be a good time for you and them. While you probably don’t want to shell out the big bucks on pro tickets until they are little more into the sport, you can go to a college game, a minor league game or even attend a pre-season game. We have gone to minor league hockey games and minor league baseball. While they are definitely not the caliber of the pros, the kids had a good time. They make sure to incorporate some fun elements into the breaks to keep the kids entertained.
The Orlando area has a bevy of theaters where you can take in a show, from traditional theater to something a bit more touristy. Dr. Phillips Center has touring Broadway shows, the opera, philharmonic, ballet and more. While this may sound a bit intimidating for a child, they do have child friendly programs to introduce kids to the opera, ballet and philharmonic. We took my three-year old to one of the Symphony Storytime Series Concerts and he really enjoyed learning about the instruments and getting to try them after the concert. Amahl and the Night Visitors, a child friendly opera, is currently playing and Beauty and The Beast, a family friendly ballet, will be performed next March.
There are also numerous regional theaters that put on productions that are perfect to take children to.
More touristy productions can also be fun to take the children to. We have been to Blue Man Group, which is good for older kids, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Show, which is currently closed due to hurricane damage but will reopen in 2018 and Medieval Times. These shows are a fun experience for the whole family and will give the kids memories for a lifetime.
Discounts for these shows can sometimes be found on Groupon or on Goldstar.
Activity Gift Ideas: Travel
Give the kids a trip somewhere special that they have been asking to go to or even a weekend away. Even though we live near Disney, maybe it’s a couple of nights at a Disney hotel instead of just going to the park. Take a family cruise to the Caribbean or maybe plan a cruise further afield to Alaska. Plan a vacation to the national parks. If you have a 4th grader, you get in free to all the parks.
Another option for a travel gift is to plan a special weekend away with each child where they get to decide where to go and what to do (within reason of course). I did a mother-daughter weekend with my 8-year old last year and I plan to make it a yearly occurrence. This year, I planned it, but next year will be up to her. It will definitely be a memory that they will remember a lot longer than whatever her toy of the moment is.
Which of the above Experience Gifts is your favorite?