The Best Family Experience Gift Ideas to Give This Year!

Anytime there is a gift-giving occasion such as Christmas, a birthday, or other special occasion celebration, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift.  A gift that shows the love you have for the person and is something they will enjoy and appreciate.  You have probably given a gift and found out later that it was the wrong size or color, or perhaps they already three of the same thing. A list of family experience gift ideas list is just what you need!

Giving experience gifts for the family instead of physical gifts reduces the collection of stuff and material goods, and provides opportunities for fun memories and quality time with family while enjoying the experiential gifts.  Depending on the type of experience, it might even be something that will continue giving joy for many years.

Family experience gifts don’t break and run out of batteries.  Giving a great experience gift allows the recipient to enjoy, learn, be inspired, and build relationships with those around them.

Experience Gifts for the Whole Family

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How to Give Experience Gifts for the Family

Experience gifts can be difficult to wrap up since they are often intangible.  But with a little creativity, you can find a creative idea to make your family experience gift ideas fun to receive.  Think about something small that might go along with the experience gift.  If you are giving an art class or lessons, perhaps a small container of paints or a sketch pad would be a perfect wrappable tangible gifts to go with the gift certificate.

If you are giving an adventure gift of a family trip, find some maps and brochures about the area and some new card games and wrap those up with the itinerary or information.  

A monthly subscription box of cooking ideas for young kids could be given with a child-sized apron and chef hat or some inexpensive cooking tools like measuring cups and cookie cutters.

Think about the family experience gift ideas you are giving and think of something small and related that you could give to introduce the experience gift you have chose.  If the experience is something you are providing, such as a tea party for your daughter or niece and her friends, make up a fancy set of invitations that she can use to invite her friends.  Include a couple of fancy chocolates with the invitation.

Giving an experience gift doesn’t have to be complicated and with a little planning, you can find the best gifts for each of your gifting needs that will fill the holiday season and beyond with a fun way to give.  

Family Experience Gift Ideas

Family experience gifts ideas are a wonderful way to give a gift to the whole family while also encouraging family time together. Family time provides the opportunity for relationships to grow. Skip the gift card in an envelope because you don’t know what else to give and read over this list of best experience gifts and get your creativity rolling.

Here are over 75 different ideas to get you started with some creative gift options that won’t add to the “too much stuff” problem many people face. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy time together without a lot of material gifts. I’m sure the you’ll find at least one great idea for Christmas morning or a Christmas gift on this list for little kids, older children, and adults. Each of these activity gifts can be as personalized or include a fun day or a great time while enjoying new things.

Family Experience Gift Ideas for the Outdoors

There are so many wonderful outdoor activities that can be become family experience gift ideas for the whole family.  Adventures that you share with your friends or family are bound to create bonding time and memories.  Even when these experiences don’t go quite as well as planned, the times together bond you as a family.

Some of the items on this list are expensive and some are free.  Use these ideas as suggestions and let your imagination create an experience that your family will love.  A gift is not so much about how much it costs, but the heart behind the giver.

  • National Park Pass – If you live close to one or more National Parks or Monuments, getting an annual pass and using it throughout the year can create all kinds of fun times together.  Check out the programs that the National Park has throughout the year and you might be able to enjoy historical re-enactments, star-gazing, wildlife counting or reporting, or much more.
  • Local State or County Park Passes also offer many opportunities for picnics, boating and swimming, camping, geocaching, hiking, and biking.  Some parks also have a visitor center where local artisans teach classes like basket making, weaving, or another new skill.
  • Rock Climbing – If you live near or travel near a rock-climbing area, you can share this experience with your family and learn to rock-climb.  Sometimes you will need a technical guide and some areas are not as technical.  Be sure to check for safety and use gear with the supervision of a trained instructor or guide.
  • Hiking and backpacking trips ​can be really fun for older kids if they enjoy the great outdoors.  
  • Geocaching – Give a compass, notepad, and a list of all the local geocaching trails.
  • Adventure Gear – Although these are specific items like a camera, binoculars, hiking boots, backpack, or a telescope, they can turn into lots of experiences over time.  If your recipient love to look for birds, the gift of a great pair of binoculars, back yard bird feeders and a bird book might be very exciting.  Hiking boots with a date set for going hiking with you is a gift to enjoy now and look forward to as well.
  • Rockhounding adventures – ​Does your child love rocks?  Take them on a trip to find rocks.  A small rock tumbler could be a great gift to go along with this and will provide hours of anticipation as the rocks are tumbling.  
  • Beachcombing – A bucket and small shovel or a beach towel could make this an easy experience gift to give.  If you live a long ways from the beach, a family vacation might also be part of this experience gift.
  • Whale-watching – ​You can often charter a boat or purchase tickets for whale watching excursions if you are close to the ocean.  Don’t forget the motion sickness medication with this gift.  
  • Deep-sea fishing
  • White-water rafting
  • Petting Zoo
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Movie tickets to an outdoor screening of your favorite movie in your backyard.​Skip the local theaters and create your own.
  • ​Mountain biking
  • Build a playhouse together
  • Build a treehouse
  • A swingset
  • A new bike
  • Snow skiing
  • Snow shoes
  • Camping gear and a camp site reservation
  • Ice fishing trip

Craft and Hobby Experience Gifts

Experience gifts that encourage the recipient’s curiosity and creativity will pique their interest and leave them wanting more.  If you know that an individual has an interest in photography, then a photography class might be the perfect experience gift for them to learn how to do their dream hobby or craft.

  • Paint your own pottery – Do a search for pottery or ceramics and you might be surprised how many places offer classes or time to come in a paint your own project.  This can be a great gift for all the cousins or an entire family.
  • Art studio – painting, drawing, sculpting classes.
  • Craft subscription boxes such as this Annie’s Creative Quilters Fabric Club“>Quilting projects or Sewing with Grandma
  • Woodworking with Grandpa or a Join today, and save 10% on any new subscription. “>Green Kids Crafts with loads of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) activities and projects.
  • Board games and card games for the family can also be experience gifts as they come with the promise of spending time playing together.
  • Food tour – ​This could include a homemade meal at your house with specialty items, or purchasing food from different restaurants or international markets to enjoy together.  

Sports Experience Gifts

If you are giving an experience gift to an active family, finding an active experience gift will be fitting.  Often an active family has done a bunch of certain types of sports but may not have done much of something else.  This could be the perfect opportunity to introduce them to a new family interest by gifting them the experience of an active gift.  Of course, active experiences are usually more fun if you do it together so you may want to include yourself in the experience so you can enjoy the memory building time together.

  • Ice Skating
  • Roller Skating
  • Trampoline Park
  • Indoor climbing wall
  • YMCA membership
  • Snow skiing lessons and season lift tickets
  • Mini Golf
  • Swimming lessons
  • Dance lessons
  • Tickets to a game
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snow shoeing
  • Sleds and a trip to the sledding hill
  • Dog sled ride
  • Local gym membership
  • Tennis lessons
  • Scuba diving lessons
  • Snorkeling trip

Family Experience Gift Ideas with Memberships and Tickets

When you start looking for annual membership or tickets to events as one of your family experience gift ideas, look at the different activities and venues in the recipient’s local area.  If they love to travel and may have plans to travel to another location, then you could also look for these types of attractions in the places they plan to visit.

If you have an airplane enthusiast, a membership to a flight museum or a behind the scenes tour at an airport or control tower might be super exciting.  If the family is really appreciative of symphony or orchestra music, find out if they have a “meet the orchestra” opportunity before a concert or perhaps a ticket to their dress rehearsal.

A week of summer camp might be a gift for the children in the family (and parents get a week of childcare) or you could also find a camp that does a family camp for the whole family.

Whether you get a family membership, day pass, or individual tickets, these non-toy gifts with be memorable and an amazing experience you can talk about and perhaps enjoy the entire year.  The gift of experience can be enjoyed by all skill levels if you plan your unique experience gift ideas to fit the recipient.  

  • Local zoo
  • Museum memberships
  • Factory Tours
  • Symphony tickets or backstage pass
  • Concert tickets
  • Indoor Water Park 
  • Swimming Pool membership
  • A sporting event
  • Science Center
  • Botanical garden
  • Indoor skydiving
  • Amusement Park or theme park
  • Summer Camp
  • Train ride
  • Plane ride
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter ride
  • Sailboat excursion
  • Train Museum
  • Flight Museum
  • Horseback riding
  • Local special events
  • Boeing Factory Tour

Family Experience Gift Ideas with Food

Everyone loves to eat.  Whether they love to cook or not is another matter, but giving a food experience gift for the family is one that will surely feed them and provide for their needs.  If your family is particularly into a specific type of cooking or baking or perhaps just needs inspiration, a cooking class or lessons might just fit the bill. This is one of those family experience gift ideas that is super easy to tailor to the interests of the person or family.

  • Restaurant of the month club – ​you can easily make this on your own with gift cards or specific dates when you will take the recipient out to eat with you.
  • Grocery box subscription
  • Local organic garden produce boxes
  • Cooking Classes
  • Cooking for Kids Subscription Boxes
  • Picnic of the month
  • Tea party with fancy food, friends, dress-up clothes, and servers followed by a crafting party or parlor games.
  • Cookie Bake-off – Prepare for a family cookie bakeoff and bring all the ingredients and decorations.  After the bake-off, make up some plates of cookies and deliver them to people you know who are lonely.  
  • Weekly Meal service – to get the whole family cooking together and trying new foods.  Check out Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. 
  • International Food club – ​this could be a fun gift for the kids with little passports to use for each of the different international meals such as Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc.  

Adventure Experience Gifts for the Family

Another category of experience gifts for the family is an adventure experience. Adventure is an action word. So anything that can be done together can turn into an adventure and should be a part on your family experience gift ideas list! Think about the types of things your recipient family enjoys doing. Then start a list of things they may not have done or something they did and they talk about all the time because they had so much fun.

This can be a great way to gather ideas about what they might enjoy doing next time. If they are always talking about that great thing they did last year, why not help them do it again or expand on the idea and tweak it a bit so they can enjoy the great things they like about the last time and enjoy something new as well.

  • Camping Trip
  • Road Trip – Plan a road trip to a destination that your family has been anticipating or dreaming about.  Put the date on the calendar and make the reservations so it doesn’t get side-lined.  
  • Monthly Game Night – send a new game each month along with popcorn and snacks.  
  • Air BnB at the beach or mountains
  • Ferry Boat Ride
  • Escape Room – Try this one at home!
  • Christmas lights and midnight snacks – Spend the evening driving around finding the best Christmas lights.  End the evening with hot cocoa and special treats.  
  • Visit SeaWorld or Epcot Center – Plan ahead and purchase the tickets or give the money for a family pass at one of these fun parks.  
  • Volunteer together as a family or choose a family in need to bless.  There are many programs such as Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child where you pack a shoebox of supplies, or relief programs where you can purchase a goat, cow, or chickens for a family in a third-world country.  You could even sponsor an orphan and provide for their food and education.  
  • Mission Trip – Plan an adventure that will last a lifetime and beyond and participate in a family mission trip.  There are many organizations and churches that sponsor local and distant mission trips.  This could be the best week or two of your family’s life!
  • Family Experience Box – Creating monthly experience gifts for the whole family can extend the joy of giving for a longer time than just once.  In the experience box, put twelve envelopes with one envelope for each month.  Add things like tickets to the local ice cream parlor, roller skating, baseball game tickets, restaurant gift cards, zoo lights tickets, concert tickets, or whatever other experiences you’d like to gift.  Put all of the envelopes in a fancy box and “do not open until……” on each envelope to create excitement and suspense.  This could be the perfect gift for a college student, grandchildren, experience gift for grandparents, or tailored to the interests of anyone on your gift list.
  • Moonlight Kayak Trip
  • Train ride
  • Canoe trip to your favorite special lake

Reading Experience Gifts for the Family

Reading or listening to books read aloud can be fun family experience gift ideas as something the family can enjoy together as they listen or read the shared stories.  If you know your gift recipient loves history, find some historical fiction books on the topic of their special interest.  Or better yet, get them an Audible membership so they can listen to these stories while they drive, exercise, or work in the yard.

  • Monthly book club
  • Kindle Subscription
  • Plan a once a week reading time or book discussion with grandparents on Zoom
  • Audible subscription
  • Magazine subscriptions – you may want to check out your public library to find ideas for magazines and to spend some time looking through them to make sure they support and line up with your beliefs and values.  Ranger Rick Magazine National Geographic Kids, Brio, Ladybug, Highlights, Cricket, and Young Rider are just a few titles that have been around for a long time.
  • Christian magazines for kids
  • A new journaling Bible with special highlighters for journaling
  • Create your own book of the month club with gift certificates for Barnes & Noble or Amazon
  • Create your own audio books for young children by reading some favorites and recording your voice.  Then give the books to the child along with the recording so they can follow along while you read.

RELATED: 12 of the Best Christmas Books for Toddlers

Choosing the Right Experience Gifts for the Family

This list of family experience gift ideas is just the tip of the proverbial iceburg.  You can turn just about anything into an experience gift for the family!   One of the best parts of giving an experiential gift for the family is that you can tailor the experience to meet the interests and values of the recipient while knowing that this experience won’t collect dust on the shelf of material things or run out of battery life!  This can be the perfect way to give a thoughtful gift that will provide happy memories, time spent together, and be a better way to give gifts.  

Take a few minutes and write down the people you have on your list that you are giving gifts to.  Then go back through this list of family experience gift ideas and make some notes about why types of things you could do or give that would memorable and special to each recipient.  Whether you’re creating your own … of the month club, purchasing tickets to a sports game or planning a family trip together, your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and enjoyed by the receivers.  If you are planning experience gifts, be sure to take pictures when you or the family enjoys the gift so you can all remember the fun time that was enjoyed together.  

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22 thoughts on “The Best Family Experience Gift Ideas to Give This Year!”

  1. Meghan Villatoro

    What a great list of experience gifts! You have shared so many excellent ideas here! It has given me some good ideas for this Christmas!

  2. I would enjoy receiving almost anything on this list of experience gifts. I think these are such great ideas that I could enjoy with my family. Plus I think it would also be a lot of fun to treat another family to these kinds of treats. I like that you included little ways to wrap up something tangible to compliment the experience-based gift. So clever!

    1. It seems like experience gifts might be even more fitting this year with the pandemic still in full-swing. That way, the recipient can enjoy the social aspect as well as the gift itself.

  3. Such a great list,

    We don’t do this in my family

    Will make a difference when I have my family. We do more of praying for one another, or giving ourselves little gifts amongst siblings

    1. Even a small gift amongst siblings could be a gift of time spent together doing something you both love. An experience gift doesn’t have to be huge and expensive to be thoughtful and meaningful. 🙂

    1. Experience gifts can be tailored so hopefully, the person getting you an experience gift would know that you would love a museum pass! Then you could use it whenever it’s convenient for you.

  4. I would love to receive an experience gift of a trip somewhere instead of more stuff this year! I love stuff, too, but my home is only so big. ? This is such a great resource of ideas! I love it!! Thank you for this!

    1. I think this is a challenge for many of us when we are getting or receiving gifts. We are blessed with so much that it makes it hard to find something that will be meaningful and not just add to the clutter. Experience gifts allow for that individualization without the additional stuff!

  5. As our children get older and leave the nest, we are always looking for ways for our family to spend quality time together. Experience gifts are the best way to give to our children and get us together as a family! Your list includes some wonderful ideas and activities that we will definitely include this year. Thank you!

  6. LOVE this! My family is all about the experience gifts too. Last Christmas we did season passes to an amusement park and this year we are doing camping gear to camp through Yellowstone. So much fun:)

  7. This is a fabulous idea about gift giving! As I went through your list of 60 gift ideas- all my family could hear me say is ‘ohhhh’ and ‘wow’! Thank you, I will implement some of these ideas this Christmas! I love the Air BandB idea!❤️

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