These experience gifts for kids are so good, they won't miss the stuff!
If you want to minimize the clutter and focus on gifts for kids that aren't toys, check out these parent-recommended ideas that prioritize making memories. Ideas on the list with a more splurge-worthy price would make amazing gifts for the whole family.
Add your favorite kid experience gifts to the list and let us know what yours have loved!
We hope some of these ideas inspire you to support your town's small businesses, and if you live in one of the areas we cover locally, you'll find plenty of kid-friendly gems near you on our lists!
Book a Cameo
Shila: Cameo is one of a few online services where you can purchase personalized video messages from a number of celebrities, athletes, reality TV stars, musicians, comedians, YouTubers and more. You name the person, Cameo is likely to offer a keepsake message for you! Video messages can take up to a week, or be ready in as little as a day. With Cameo Live, you can also schedule a live call with your celebrity of choice.
Memento Personalized Video Montage
Shila: Memento (formerly VidHug) is a free app that allows you to send a link for people to upload a video message for a person of honor. It's very simple to upload and it only takes a minute to record a message, which the platform compiles into a special collage of personalized messages.
My kids have recorded a few messages not only for friends' virtual birthday parties, but for family who live across the country, too. These videos also make unique classroom teacher gifts.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
Kelly R.: This annual pass gives the gift of a year of adventure, granting access to the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. It's an especially fun family gift idea when paired with a scratch-off National Parks poster so you can track all of the parks that you visit together.
Kelly R.: My kids have enjoyed going to the zoo at every age, and I think zoo memberships are the perfect experience gifts for kids who don't have one yet!
Museum or Zoo Extras
Kelly R.: If you already have a membership to your favorite museum or zoo, consider any special add-ons they offer as fun experience gift ideas for kids! Most offer extras that regular admission doesn't grant access too, like sleepover events, animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours.
Trampoline Park Pass
Kelly R.: In addition to gift cards, many local trampoline parks offer the option for monthly memberships or passes that are good for a certain number of sessions. All of these make perfect experience gifts for kids who need to burn off some energy!
Indoor Skydiving Experience
Kelly R.: Thrill seeking kids will love the chance to defy gravity at a local indoor skydiving place, where they can suit up and enter a vertical wind tunnel that lets them experience the feeling of skydiving without the heights!
Kelly R.: A cooking class (or a series of them!) at a local kid-friendly cooking school is a great gift for kids who like to cook, or just want to get more comfortable in the kitchen.
Indoor Playground Pass
Kelly R.: I would have loved passes to any of our local indoor play places as experience gifts when my kids were preschoolers! Such a fun way to kill time on the weekdays before they were in school, and those individual visits can really add up.
Ice Cream Gift Card
Kelly R.: Kids experience gifts don't need to cost a lot of money. A gift card that covers a trip or two to a local scoop shop will go over big, especially if they get to pick whatever day they want to use it!
Themed Restaurant Outing
Kelly R.: Outings to special themed restaurants that you wouldn't normally hit up for a family dinner make such fun kid experience gifts! Consider places like Medieval Times, board game cafes, or even train-themed restaurants that offer entertainment along with your meal.
Kelly R.: A family vacation (or staycation) may come with a bigger price tag, but it's a great idea for an experience gift that can be given to the whole family. Depending on the age of your kids, you might enjoy gathering travel ideas and planning the trip together as part of the fun.
Kelly R.: There are so many different subscription boxes for kids, and many are free of toys and focus more on clutter-free consumables like science experiments, craft supplies and cooking kits. Whether you give a couple months or an entire year, it's an experience gift that kids will love looking forward to for a while!
Kelly R.: It's fun to play tourist in your own town by checking out a kid-friendly unique local tour. Choose an experience that lines up with your kid's interests, from dessert tours to architecture tours to a behind-the-scenes stadium tour.
Kelly R.: I love swimming lessons as experience gifts for kids because they're so fun, but also so important for child safety. Lessons in a nice warm indoor pool are an especially fun winter activity, and will get kids ready for a summer of swimming!
Kelly R.: Enrollment starts early for many summer camps, so a session can be given as a gift (or as an IOU) months before summer arrives. A week at camp will be a lot of fun to look forward to!
Kelly R.: Tickets to a kid-friendly local Broadway show or a local children's theatre production both make wonderful experience gifts for kids. Many theaters offer season passes or multi-show package deals if you'd like to give a gift they can enjoy all year.
Kelly R.: My kids have had a blast at local kid-friendly escape rooms, and they would love to receive gift cards to these places as fun experience gifts! Use one for an outing with your family, or invite a few of their friends along. Just call ahead to confirm that your local spot is kid-friendly.
Sporting Event Tickets
Kelly R.: Sporty kids will love receiving tickets to see their favorite team play. Even better if you wrap up the tickets with a new team t-shirt or hat!
Kelly R.: Consider a membership to a museum that your family would enjoy visiting at least a few times over the course of a year. If you have a local children's museum, this is an especially great experience gift for kids who are young enough to take advantage of their cool indoor play spaces.
Primary photo: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.