Anytime there is a gift-giving occasion such as Christmas, a birthday, or other 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.
Giving experiences instead of gifts reduces the collection of stuff, and provides opportunities for fun memories and family time while enjoying the gift. Depending on the type of experience, it might even be something that will continue giving joy for many years.
Experience gifts don’t break and run out of batteries. Giving an experience instead of a gift allows the recipient to enjoy, learn, be inspired, and build relationships with those around them.
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How to Give Experience Gifts
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 experience gift fun to receive. Think about something small that might go along with the experience. If you are giving an art class or lessons, perhaps a small container of paints or a sketch pad would be a perfect wrappable gift.
If you are giving an adventure gift of a trip, find some maps and brochures about the area and wrap those up with the itinerary or information. A monthly subscription box of cooking ideas for 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 experience gift 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.
Family Experience Gift Ideas
Family experience gifts 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. Here are over 60 different ideas to get you started with some ideas.
Outdoor Experience Gifts for the Whole Family
There are so many wonderful outdoor activities that can be become experience gifts 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.
- Camping trip with gear.
- 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, etc.
- 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.
- 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 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 adventure
- 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.
- Deep-sea fishing
- White-water rafting
- Petting Zoo
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 Creative Girls Club will send a package every month or less depending on your choices. The packages will come with all the supplies and materials along with the directions for a complete project.
- Create your own craft of the month box by spending some time in Michaels or Hobby Lobby in their craft kit aisle. Are there projects here that would be fun for the person on your gift list? Do you have a stash of craft supplies in a closet that you could create your own projects?
- Quilting projects or Sewing with Grandma
- Woodworking with Grandpa or a young woodworkers subscription with all the supplies and project directions
- Paint and re-decorate a bedroom or office.
- Instrument and Music Lessons
- Gardening kits with seeds, hand tools, and a bag of dirt.
- Create a photo book or scrapbook of your adventures to continue creating memories. Children love to look at pictures of themselves and this offers an amazing opportunity to re-live the fun times you had together. Look at the pictures together and share your memories and stories often.
- Learning boxes such as Green Kids Crafts with loads of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) activities and projects.
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
Memberships and Tickets
When you start looking or memberships or tickets to events for a family experience gift, 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.
- Factory Tours
- Symphony tickets or backstage pass
- Concert tickets
- Water Park/Pool
- Summer Camp
- Train ride
- Plane ride
- Hot air balloon ride
- Helicopter ride
- Sailboat excursion
- Train Museum
- Flight Museum
- Boeing Factory Tour
Food Experience Gifts
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.
- Restaurant of the month
- Cooking Classes
- Cooking for Kids Subscription Boxes
- Picnic of the month
- Teaparty with fancy food, friends, dress-up clothes, and servers.
- 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.
Adventure Experiences for the Whole 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! 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.
- 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 – Create a monthly experience gift for the whole family. 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
Reading Experience Gifts
Reading or listening to books read aloud can create fun experiences around 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.
Choosing the Right Experience Gift
This list is just the tip of the proverbial ice-burg. You can turn just about anything into an experience gift! One of the best parts of giving an experience 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 or run out of battery life!
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