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.

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.

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

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.

Here are some of our favorite experience gifts: 

  1. Zoo/aquarium membership.
  2. Museum passes (and maybe some new art supplies so the kids can draw pictures of what they see).
  3. Day at a local farm.
  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 a water park (and maybe a new swimsuit)
  7. Cooking/baking classes (with some new kitchen utensils for little hands). Also check out this great baking subscription box for them to practice their new skills.
  8. Favorite restaurant gift cards (nothing is better than letting your child buy you lunch!)
  9. An interactive digital photo frame with preloaded snapshots/videos of things you’ve done together.
  10. Snow tubing/ice skating/skiing trip.
  11. Pottery making or painting session (try an at-home pottery kit if you don’t have a local studio.)
  12. A trip to the bookstore or e-Reader/Kindle gift card
  13. Travel 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 (like Highlights or National Geographic Kids.)
  17. Personalize a music CD with a child’s name. Kids love to hear their own name put to music and it’s something they can use again and again.
  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 (or a backyard obstacle course if local options are limited)
  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/VRBO 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)
  26. Subscription to Little Passports Early Explorers (perfect for preschoolers)
  27. Materials for a fun family project (like building a terrarium)
  28. Local and National State Park passes for a year
  29. A kid-friendly camera for littles to use during adventures
  30. Mini-golf outing (or do it from home)


You may also like:

Give While You Gift: Innovative Brands That Give Back

14 Faith-Based Gifts For Friends and Family

15 Perfect Holiday Gifts For the Mom in Your Life

Want more stories of love, family and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

At Her View From Home, we love sharing our favorite things with you! The recommendations in this post contain affiliate links, so we may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase any of them. You can check out more products we’re crazy about at our Shop tab, HERE.

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at