There is no greater joy than watching a child’s face light up when he opens a gift he loves. More often than not, however, that toy usually is sitting in a bin underneath a heap of other toys a few days later.

Too many toys can stress both parents and kids to the max. It can add clutter and chaos instead of the joy the gift was intended to provide. Worse, when kids are bombarded with too much stuff, each one becomes less special, meaning they stop appreciating what they do receive.

RELATED: Dear Family: Let’s Cut the Clutter This Christmas With Big Ticket Items

That’s why we love experience gifts in place of tangible playthings. They can create lifelong memories without adding any more stuff to your home. They can be educational, creative, and help parents burn off some of that unending kid energy, especially during long, winter months.

It can be an awkward conversation to have, however, with friends and family who want to make your child’s holiday magical, so it’s good to have some ideas handy so you can guide gifters in the right direction. When trying to encourage people to purchase an experience instead of a toy, focus on a bigger message. “We’re trying to spend more time together as a family,” or “Sam is obsessed with music this year, and we’re trying to keep his passion going,” often works better than simply saying you don’t want more toys in the house.

Not sure what to ask for? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a range of experience gifts for every age group. And if Grandma still insists she needs to buy something? Suggest she purchases a small companion gift to the experience. We’ve included our team favorites below.

  1. Zoo/aquarium membership
  2. Museum passes (and maybe some new art supplies so the kids can draw pictures of what they see)
  3. Movie theater gift cards
  4. Theme park packages or a season pass to Disney, Great Adventure, etc.
  5. Lessons for their favorite sport or activity (art, karate, piano, golf, etc.). New gear for these lessons also is great.
  6. Gift card to an indoor water park for the winter (and maybe a new swimsuit)
  7. Cooking/baking classes (with some new kitchen utensils for little hands)
  8. Favorite restaurant gift cards (nothing is better than letting your child buy you lunch!)
  9. Theater/concert tickets
  10. Snow tubing/ice skating/skiing trip
  11. Pottery making or painting session
  12. A trip to the bookstore  or e-Reader gift cards
  13. Airfare gift cards (great for older kids) or a plane ticket to a vacation spot or to visit the grandparents
  14. Subscription boxes (Like  Think Outside for quality time in the great outdoors, or Dispatch Breakout Games to enjoy on family game night)
  15. Money towards summer camp
  16. Magazine subscriptions
  17. iFly indoor skydiving gift card
  18. Spa session for a mani/pedi or special hair treatment (and a spa set for kids to have fun at home.)
  19. Sporting event tickets (and a jersey for their favorite player)
  20. Trampoline park/indoor climbing excursion 
  21. Walking or bus tours for a nearby city to play tourist for the day
  22. Family pass to a YMCA or local gym with a pool (with swim lessons)
  23. Hotel gift cards for a last-minute family getaway
  24. iTunes gift cards for tweens/teens who want more music
  25. Charity donation (let the child pick)


You may also like:

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15 Perfect Holiday Gifts For the Mom in Your Life

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