Best Experience Gifts for Kids (Instead of Toys!)

Have you ever given your kids a gift, and they play with it for twenty minutes, and then they are over it? Yep, you’re not the only one! That's why we love experience gifts for kids (of all ages!).

Play. Learn. Thrive.™ only endorses products we authentically love and use. Some of the product links in this post may be affiliate links. That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission. Play. Learn. Thrive.™ is also an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase. 

While some toys serve many purposes, can be educational, and can even entertain a child for several years, many seem to take up space and become something else you have to dust. Because of this (and many other reasons I’ll talk about), I often prefer giving my kids experience gifts instead of tangible gifts such as toys or electronics. These experience gifts give your children memories that will last much longer than a toy.

What is an Experience Gift?

An experience gift is exactly what it sounds like – it is a present that you give your kids that is something they can actually do, rather than a tangible item. They allow your child to have a memorable experience rather than an item such as a toy or electronic. Finding the right gift for someone, especially kids, can be tough, but if there is something that you know they enjoy doing, you can’t go wrong with an experience gift. There are many experiences to choose from, and it is a fantastic way to give your children a memorable experience.

Why should I give my kids experience gifts instead of toys?

You should give your child an experience gift instead of a toy for many reasons. There are hundreds of ideas for kids that will make amazing experience gifts.

You Are Giving Your Child Lifelong Memories

One of the main reasons why many parents switch to experience gifts is that it gives you and your child a chance to make lifelong memories. This gift can be a trip, a ticket, or a subscription. These things can all be done as a family so you can spend quality time together creating these memories. 

The Excitement Will Continue

With an experience gift, your child can open something AND be given something to look forward to. When they see that they have an event to go to or something to do in the future, their excitement will continue! 

Less Mess!

By giving your kids experiences instead of items, you automatically have less to pick up or clean. Need I say more?

Experiences Can Be More Valuable Than Objects

Experiences can also give your child more value than a tangible gift typically would. The experience you give them can be hands-on and interactive, providing them with an experience that will be more impactful on them than a toy would have been. Not only will an experience be valuable to your child, but it can also be more monetary. An experience often costs less than many toys and can be more fun for your children.

Experience Gifts Encourage Social Skills

Maybe instead of a family vacation, you give your child a ticket to a class, like an art class or a fun fitness class. Experiences like these will be enjoyable for your child and help them expand and practice their social skills. You can also plan your experience gifts with other children. Let your kids invite a few friends to the experience, or give them something simple but still social, like a sleepover or a party.

Experience Gifts Can Teach Your Child Something New

Experience gifts are a great way for your child to try something new. You could take them to a place where they have never been and expose them to other cultures and settings. You could sign them up for a class where they can try something new. There are many different ways that gift experiences can encourage your child to expand their horizons.

An Experience Gift for the Child Who Has Everything

Do you ever try to decide what to give your child as a gift but can’t help but feel like they already have everything that they want? In situations like that, an experience gift is a fantastic option. An experience will also show your child that you put thought into their gift by choosing something you know they will enjoy.

How do I wrap an experience gift?

You can wrap an experience gift just as you would any other gift. For example, you can print off the ticket confirmations and wrap them in a box if it involves tickets. If it is a gift certificate, you can put it in an envelope and place it in a gift bag. If it is a trip that you are going on, you can print pictures of the places or even give them something small that represents the trip (like a seashell for a beach trip or camping gear for a camping trip) and wrap this item so that they have something to open. If you want to give your children multiple experience gifts, you can even create a coupon book that they can unwrap with “coupons” for each experience.

What are the best experience gifts for kids?

There are so many experience gift ideas that I could never name them all, but I will share some of my favorite experience gifts!


Travel is always a great experience gift for kids and can be perfect. This does not have to be an extravagant vacation for your children to be excited. My family enjoys nearby overnight trips just as much as they do lengthy vacations. Plan something that your entire family will enjoy that is age appropriate for your children. You can even get them gift certificates for experiences they can do on the trip. You can’t go wrong!

Visit new places

Planning a visit to a new place is another fun experience gift idea for kids. Maybe there are places in your town you have never taken them to. This is a great time to do it! Plan a staycation, or even buy tickets to a local Children’s Museum or art museum they may not have visited. You could get tickets to try something exciting and new, like a hot air balloon ride or a train ride. This could also be as simple as taking them ice skating or to the batting cages if your kids are into sports and active activities. Whatever you choose, your little ones will be excited to visit somewhere they have never been.

Season Passes

You don't have to give your kids a ticket to go one time. You can gift them a membership, such as an art museum membership, a science museum membership, or even a fitness club membership if there is one that offers kids classes they would enjoy.

Subscriptions as experience gifts

I love the idea of giving a subscription as an experience gift! There are hundreds of ideas to choose from for subscriptions, but here are a few of my favorites:

Activity Subscription Boxes

These are themed boxes that will be delivered to your child each month. These can be educational, crafty, or themed, and many of them will let you choose your box based on your child’s age.

Mel Science Kits

These are some of the most popular science subscription boxes for kids. Each box comes with a fun project that your children will enjoy.

Little Global Citizens

Global awareness of children is a core value we hold. If you feel the same way, Little Global Citizens is the subscription box you should give your kiddos!

Raddish Kids

This cooking subscription box is great for your little ones who love to cook and eat!

We Craft Box

This box is a fun choice for your kids who love doing arts and crafts. 

Music Library Box

Each of these boxes comes with music-themed books, activities, and access to online resources.

Books and Magazine Subscriptions

Like with the subscription boxes, there are dozens of these book and magazine subscriptions to choose from. Base your research on your child's interests and age, and you will surely find a subscription they will enjoy!

Lady Bug

These monthly magazines provide sweet stories, arts and crafts ideas, and even games. These are ideal for younger children.


Yep, that’s right, the Highlights Magazines we had when we were kids still exist today! My favorite thing about this magazine is that your kids can write short stories, excerpts, etc., and send them in to be published!

Sparkle World

This is a super fun monthly subscription box option for girls! It is full of activities, posters, and stickers that feature some of their favorite characters.

Animal Tales

Animal Tales is an ideal monthly subscription for your animal-loving children. Not only will they learn about animals, but they also get monthly activities and games.

Lessons or Classes

Lessons and classes are hands-on experiences that make wonderful experiences gifts for kids. This is a great time to sign your child up for music lessons, sports classes, or even a local club. Your local library is an excellent resource when trying to decide on a lesson or class for your child, and they often offer many clubs. If you want to give them multiple classes, try creating a coupon book that you can give them that will have “coupons” that you have created for them to attend those classes.

Active & Sports Activities

There are so many ways that you can use an experience gift as a way to get your child active! Get them passes to a local pool or trampoline park. Get them tickets to a skating rink or bowling alley. Sign them up for a sport that they have wanted to play. Take them to a water park or an amusement park. Plan a camping trip and let them plan the games that your family will play. Does your child want to learn to skate? Take them roller skating at the skating rink as a family. Your child will love being given a fun, active activity instead of a toy!

Gift Cards

A gift card is an easy way to give your child an experience gift. For example, you could give them a restaurant gift card and a movie theater gift card and turn it into a night out as a family. There are many fun ways to turn a gift card into an experience gift for your kids.

Hands-on Experiences

Your child will enjoy getting a hands-on experience as a gift instead of a toy. If they are interested in art, try enrolling them in a pottery class. Do they like making jewelry? Many craft stores offer jewelry-making classes. Do they like animals? Find a farm or petting zoo where they can interact with the animals.

A pass to a cooking class is another fun hands-on experience if your little one likes to cook. You could even give them horseback riding lessons if they are more adventurous! Some cities even have bike riding lessons or skateboarding lessons. Hands-on experiences will be very memorable for your children.

Experience gifts to do at home

Streaming services and app subscriptions are great examples of experience gifts that your children can use at home. You could also give them audiobooks or music they can enjoy at home. A sleepover with a friend or a family sleepover is also a fun idea for experience gifts that can be done at home. You can get them pizza and ice cream, and they will entertain themselves!

Family movie night also makes a fun experience gift. Your kids would love making a pillow fort, getting some cozy blankets in the living room, and camping out as a family! Family game night is always a hit, too. Choose a fun game or go to the store together and choose some games or a board game, then go home and play them as a family. This may even be their favorite gift!

What are the best experience gifts for teens?

Teenagers can be tricky to buy gifts for, but experience gifts are a fun option! Whether you want to take them on a trip, spend time doing something fun at home, or take them to a class, there are plenty of options for experience gifts for teenagers.


If you have teenagers, you know it may not be much longer until they are moved out of the house. A vacation as a gift is a fun way for you to spend time with them as a family. Choose a place that they will enjoy, and they will be so excited for this experience gift!


There are plenty of subscription boxes that are geared toward teens! Simply search one of their interests and subscription box, and you will see all sorts of ideas!


There are plenty of things that your teen would love getting tickets to go to. Whether it is a concert, a movie theater, a bowling alley, or a local event, a ticket is a fun option for an experience gift for your teenager. Movie tickets are a great way to have a family night. Taking them to a theme park is also a fun idea for an experience gift. Concert tickets are always a hit and will give them an experience that will create lasting memories! If your teens are more adventurous, take them indoor skydiving or to a trampoline jump park (these parks are also fun for little ones – many of them have toddler areas). 


Classes do not just have to be for your younger kids. Your older teens may enjoy a class such as photography, pottery, or even dance lessons. A cooking class is also a fun idea, especially as they are getting older and need to learn skills that they will be able to use when they are on their own.

Gift Cards

I have yet to meet a teenager who does not want a gift card! Rather than a shopping gift card, please give them a gift card to a restaurant, a local attraction, a salon, or something else that they can actively do.

Will my kids be happy with an experience gift?

You will be surprised just how excited your children, whether they are toddlers, elementary age, or even teenagers, will be when they receive an experience gift rather than a toy or tangible gift. It gives them something to look forward to while still giving them something to unwrap. It also shows them that you have been paying attention to things they ask you to do and their interests, which is reflected in an experience gift. Your children will be very happy to receive a non-toy gift. Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving!

Similar Posts