Best experiential gift for kids? Talk amongst yourselves.

Kids Discover magazineAlex send me this musing on non-clutter gifts a long time ago. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

Experiences are a great alternative to “stuff” as presents. Give tickets to the aquarium, or to a concert (an inexpensive one, anyway). If you are someone the child is close to (particularly a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.) you could give “gift certificates” for things they get to do with you — “a trip to the beach with Aunt Patty.”

One thing we’ve done is give kids “cookies in a jar,” where all the dry ingredients for a cookie recipe (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc) are layered in a jar, with the recipe attached. You could also give a basket with everything needed to bake your own bread, or something similar.

Finally, we’re big fans of magazine subscriptions, mostly for older kids — one good option is Kids Discover, which focuses on a different science or nature theme in each issue. Steer clear of National Geographic for Kids, however, as it’s LOADED with ads for plastic toy crap and horrible junk food. (Shame on the National Geographic Society!) [I second that. — Ed.]

What are the best no-clutter, experiential gifts you’ve given, or that your kids have received?


  1. MIMI says

    Make your own card sets have been huge for the last 1.5 yrs with my 7 yo. She gets to do an art project then we send the cards to friends and family, getting them out of our house.

  2. Gilda says

    The best gifts for my girls, which I wish more people would take advantage of, are money/gift certificate for summer classes. It’s a great to stay active, have fun, connect with the gift giver (sharing the experience and the fun their having through the year) and also know that Grandma/other family members are a part of their lives from a distance (especially since our kids are young and are just trying things out, OH, and we have very little extra money for fun things like summer classes).

  3. Kelly says

    I requested from my in-laws that they might give zoo passes last year to our local zoo. (All the grandkids had plenty of toys already!) It has been terrific! And all of the families can go together.

  4. Lisa J. says

    Grandparents got all grandchildren a year’s subscription to Disney Digital Books. Over 500 books (at multiple reading levels) on your laptop. Talk about saving space! Price is $80 for up to 3 kids, so it was a real bargain for the grandparents to give to all three kids!

  5. Liz says

    Magazines are a huge hit with our kids, even at a young age. Babybug & then Ladybug have gotten read over and over and over again, and it is so exciting to get something in the mail. We’ve also gotten Know Magazine, which we enjoy, and I think is ad free. Really disappointed with the Nat’l Geog Kids mentioned in the post. Had to tell the grandparents not to renew that one.

  6. Anna says

    My parents sponsor gymnastics for the kids, and get them magazine subscriptions (ladybug\babybug are winners around here. ntl geographic for kids…shockingly not good). These are nice because every week or month we can think of them and be happy. Like opening a new present every week.
    Also they will do activities like circus or a play with them, big ticket items that we can’t necessarily do.
    We give the kids money for Chanukah, and then take them together to spend it on something special. Two and up love that.

  7. genie says

    Geocaching requires a GPS unit or a geocaching enabled iphone… but it is wonderful! It is finding hidden treasure in parks and alongside roads… all with GPS coordinates. Once you have the GPS unit, the game is free. It is wonderful for families and even those without kids. It combines finding hidden treasure (caches) with learning how to use coordinates and then learning about the often interesting places the caches are hidden. I can’t say enough good things about it. Every young kid loves it!

  8. says

    Love ‘credits’ cards for my husband (the kids and I made them and he can present a card when he needs some alone time, computer time, quiet time, or time with mommy!