“Experience” Gift Guide: 10 Gifts for kids that don’t take up room in the toy box!

…or let’s be honest the floor of the toy room.

It’s hard to buy meaningful gifts for the kids in my life because I know that they are so blessed to already have and get so much stuff. These gifts won’t come in the usual boxes with those awful safety ties and tabs that require an engineer to get out of, nor do they require new batteries to operate.

#1 Memberships

We love getting memberships for our daughters for birthdays and holidays. We also put them on their wish lists because they can use them all year long and won’t grow out of it! In past years, our favorites were Mass Audubon, Old Sturbridge Village, Worcester Art Museum, The EcoTarium, The Boston Aquarium and The Discovery Museum in Acton. We also love that the packages and costs range depending on the places you like to go – which is great for loved ones who want to give a membership as a gift.

#2 Stocks

Savings Bonds seem to be a thing of the past — probably because you need a social security number in order to purchase one for someone. Therefore when we found that you can gift one share of a stock, we were thrilled to still be able to give a gift that would appreciate in value over time (at least hopefully). We found Give a Share to be a unique way to give a kid an investment in their future. You can buy one stock (or several) from a variety of companies including Disney, Apple, Ford, Under Armor and more! We based the stock on the interest of the child and went from there. It comes with a pretty stock certificate as well.

#3 Experiences

Tickets to a Hanover Theatre show (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is coming in March!), tickets to the movie theater, or a Boston ballet.

#4 Books

You can’t go wrong with a new book for kids! Here is our list of recommended books for kids of all ages.

#5 Classes

Art classes at Worcester Art Museum, Karate, Ninja Challenge, Dance or Gymnastics Classes at Sterling Gymnastics, Garden Music Together classes or swimming lessons at the Worcester Fitness. There are so many great offerings in the area, so instead of deciding in April whether or not to do swim lessons, make the decision now. Box it and wrap it up! Experience gifts are the best!

#6 Date Night with mom or dad!

Give a restaurant gift card and a certificate for a mini golf or movie night. I remember loving date nights with my dad growing up. Maybe your daughter would enjoy a mani-pedi day with mom. Your son would like to go to the driving range with dad. There are so many great ways to package up some quality time together and make it a special memorable event.

#7 Magazine Subscriptions

Hello! Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, Boys’ Life, Ask, Babybug… the list goes on and on. There are lots of fantastic kid magazines for all ages and interests. Here is a good list of award-winning kids magazines to subscribe to.

#8 Recipe & Ingredients

Kids love cooking with their parents. Put together a recipe and mason jar with the ingredients like these here, and spend time together in the kitchen baking and eating delicious treats!

#9 Donations

My sister-in-law donated money to the National Wildlife Federation in my daughter’s name last year. We received a little stuffed endangered animal (a snow leopard), a card with fun facts about the animal and ways we could help protect endangered animals. It was a really thoughtful gift for our nature-loving family!

#10 Photo Calendar

My mother-in-law makes us a calendar with all pictures of our daughters each year. They love looking at the pictures each month and pointing out all the family members they recognize. We are horrible at printing pictures, and so it is nice to see the pictures we took last year up and on display! This is a simple project that can be done on all the major picture sites like Snapfish, Shutterfly, CVS and Walgreens. Just upload the pictures and move them to which month you would like them located in!

Whether it is your own children or the children of a friend, all the adults involved will be thrilled to have one less plastic toy to wrestle out of the packaging and find a home for in the toy room.

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