Instead of the latest widget or gadget, how about giving a gift that can both create memories and last longer than your average set of double-A batteries? Here are 10 experience gifts you can give.
1. Memberships to science centers, museums and zoos
Many cities have a children’s museum or science center with an annual pass option. It can be cheaper to buy an annual membership than for a large family to go once. These are great places to go on a rainy day and for field trips that are both educational and fun.
2. Community theater
While Broadway prices can be steep, local community theater is always in need of support and often produces great performances. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the arts. Some theaters have programs specifically targeted to introduce children to the behind-the-scenes workings of the stage, as well.
3. Sports season tickets
While season tickets for the pro leagues can be prohibitively expensive, minor league and college teams can be great options for outings with relatively little cost. Minor league baseball can be an option for family outings that lasts all summer long.
4. Painting classes
There are painting classes for every skill level and style, from art school programs to Friday night drink-and-paint sessions for adults. A fun option is contacting your local pottery store for their paint-your-own-pottery classes. You can pick out unpainted pieces to paint (or, if you’re not feeling the arts, get a gift certificate.)
5. Get in the park
If you have a fourth grader, there is no excuse not to get this one: a free year-long pass to all the national parks with the “Every Kid In a Park” program. This pass provides access to national parks for all children under 16 and up to three adults – not just the fourth grader, so it is a great family gift and is available to homeschoolers as well.
Visit www.everykidinapark.gov for more information.
6. Craft bucket
If you’ve got kids that are into crafts, this is a great idea. Take a large basket or even a bucket and fill it with scissors, paper, glue, string, and every other craft supply imaginable. If the basket is big enough, include books on how to draw and paint. That can lead to dozens of hours of fun for them and you.
7. Drink up
Finding gift ideas for dads can be tricky. If they enjoy beer, you might try interesting them in a home brewing kit. Try starting with a book to gauge his interest – there are pre-made brewing kits, but he should really talk to a local home brew store if possible to find out what supplies and ingredients he will need.
8. A day off
What do moms really want around the holidays? How about a day off – a day where they don’t have to cook, clean or deal with the household in any way? Even better, get them a gift card to go out for coffee, schedule a moms night out with several of her friends, or best of all, a massage appointment at a spa.
9. A day out
Days out together are great for grandparents and grandkids. Have the kids pick a fun activity they want to do with grandparents or extended family and give it to their elders as a gift. For an added bonus, document the day with photographs and make a photo book out of it for a future gift.
10. Treasure hunt
Geocaching is a fun, free way to go on a treasure hunt with your kids almost anywhere in the world. To learn more about it, contact your local state park office – many of them have geocaching programs that will help introduce your family to it for free.