Giving the gift of memories are the gifts that genuinely last a lifetime and while a child’s memory is limited in what it will remember long-term, giving them experiences won’t be a waste of time or money.
First, you will remember. You will remember the big squeals and smiles, you’ll remember your child’s infectious enthusiasm, and you will probably remember the inevitable meltdown if the fun goes on for too long (always bring snacks). If you take pictures, they will help your child remember, too.
Secondly, you are putting value on memories and experiences. By giving your child gifts that aren’t physical objects and toys, you are teaching them that time with family is a gift and that they are fun gifts.
Finally, this may be a bit selfish to say, but let’s face it, who wants more toys in the house to trip over. Experience gifts won’t clutter your house, won’t lead to arguments over who has to pick them up, and they won’t have a chance to break leading to you frantically trying to repair it and ending up in a sad, gluey mess.
The gifts listed below, are ones the whole family can participate in and give you the peace of mind of flexible exchanges, long expiration dates (20 months), and even free extensions in some cases.
So go ahead.
Plan something fun for your kids (and you, too).
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Memorable experience gifts for kids
1. Photo Shoot
This is a fun memorable gift because your child gets to play dress up and pretend to be a fairy, elf, or superhero. You get gorgeous photos to remember them forever and your child will be excited to see the results, too!
This experience is for four family members over the age of 5 and includes refreshments throughout the experience. Oh, and you get a 12 x 8 photo included as well.
Being able to get up close and personal with animals is something most kids enjoy (depending on the animal) and will remember.
As a parent, I like the fact that exposing children to animals teaches them to love and respect the creatures we share the planet with. When you teach them to love animals as kids, they grow into adults that value their existence and are willing to protect them. So here are a couple of animal interaction activities you can experience with your kids.
Get up close and personal with soft, adorable alpacas. Your family gets to take them for a walk and learn all about the cuddly animals.
The farm is also home to giant bunnies, pygmy goats, chickens and runner ducks.
The Animal Experience in Ely, is home to some incredibly friendly meercats. Not only do you get to feed them, but they will climb all over you!
A fun unique experience for your family. Minimum age is 8 and beware, the meercats may eat your shoelaces.
If you have kids that have watched Babe or Charlotte’s Web then this experience is bound to be exciting for them.
Kids of all ages can head into the pens to play with, pet, and groom micro pigs and piglets!
5. Farmer Ted’s
Farmer Teds has something for kids of all ages and when I say all ages I mean dads and grandads will have fun, too. There are soft play areas and a café, animals to visit in the barn and activities like pedal go-karts, zip lines, and other places to play sprinkled through the site. A really fun day out for the whole family.
Season Tickets also available.
6. Acorn Farm
This sweet little farm is perfect if you have toddlers because it’s small. It’s easy to walk around and see everything before your little one gets burnt out.
There is a fun animal experience where your little ones sit on bales of hay and have different animals brought to them to pet. Olivia loved the rat and we found out that Lee is allergic to guinea pigs. Good times.
If you have ever been to the beach and given in to your kids riding on the donkeys, then this experience is likely to be right up their street. Complete with helmets and smaller horses for the kids, this beach riding experience is not only fun, but a safe one, too.
Not all successful experience gifts for kids have to include animals. Here’s some animal free adventures for you.
Dreamland is a fun seaside amusement park that has rides for all ages. The unlimited wristband also includes access to The Octopus’ Garden for younger kids and THE ROLLER DISCO!
A fun day out that could be part of a weekend minibreak, too.
There’s just something fun about riding a train and this day out includes unlimited rides! There’s a refreshments room, play area, and plenty to see throughout the station. You can even visit the 1930s Engine room where several movies have been filmed including Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
10. Family Surf Day
Fistral Beach Surf School offers their surf lessons year round, and coming from this California girl, as long as you have a wetsuit, you’ll be fine no matter the season.
You get a private lesson for your family and once you are all up and surfing you get the equipment for the rest of the day to enjoy what you learned.
The minimum age for this experience is 6 years old.
It doesn’t matter how may times you go see a film, it’s an activity that never gets old. The snacks and the smell of the popcorn all was a treat in itself and brings back so many memories for me, so here’s your chance to give your kids those memories, too.
This may seem like a strange one, but let me tell you, Lee and I visit a National Trust several times a month with the girls and they love the experience every time. Many of the sites have playgrounds, cafés and other activities and events specifically for kids.
If you have toddlers, you can take them to any and just let them run free because let’s be honest, toddlers just. Want. To. Run. Might as well be somewhere pretty.
This is a fun gift for the whole family where everyone over the age of 6 can have an active role. The scavenger hunt is based on the city of your choice where you get to explore landmarks and hidden gems in the city over approximately 2 hours (though you can pause for breaks and site seeing).
The hunts can be done any day you choose even holidays and are good for two years giving you plenty of flexibility in planning your adventure. There’s even at-home adventures available if you aren’t ready to be out and about.
14. Swimming Lessons
If you want to think beyond amusement-style outings, giving a kid lessons for something like swimming is a lifelong skill that will make other activities possible (like water parks) in the future.
Gifted lessons give kids a chance to learn something, try something new, and possibly discover a passion and make new friends, so even if it isn’t swimming lessons, giving lessons of any kind would be a great gift.
Experience Gifts Will Mean More to Your Kids Than Toys
Yes, your kids can and will still create a list of things they want a mile long, but let me tell you, if given the choice they want to spend time with you.
The last year I taught primary school, I had the kids write two letters, one to Santa asking what they wanted for Christmas, and one to their parents asking what they wanted for Christmas.
The letters were very different. The Santa letter had the toys and game consoles, but the parent letter included simple things like a trip to the park.
I then told the kids they could only send one letter. They all sent the parent letter.
My students chose time with their parents over all the toys and technology.
Chances are your kids would make the same choice. They just want time with you.
Hopefully, you found some fun gift ideas in this list or have been inspired to find others.
Toys will eventually lose their appeal, but memories are forever. So whatever the occasion consider giving an experience.
Which experience are you most excited to give? Let me know in the comments below.