Not All Presents Come in a Box: Make the Holidays Sparkle with Experience Gifts

Parents want Christmas to be magical. Sometimes this means driving all over town or frantically searching online for trendy toys or gadgets only to find that children grow bored and banish them to the back of the closet or toy box after the holidays. This Christmas, why not give your child the gift of time by picking out an activity-based gift? Try one of these experience gift ideas and pair it with a related fun item to go under the tree.

Plus, our readers on Instagram pitched in with their ideas too!

A Heart for the Art

Is your child a budding Van Gogh or drama queen? Here are some ideas for visual and performing arts experience gifts.

Experience Gifts:
   • Museum membership
   • Performance tickets
   • Acting classes
   • Painting classes
   • Dance or music lessons
   • Movie tickets

Tangible Gifts:
   • Art, drawing, dance, or acting books
   • Easel
   • Art table
   • Spirograph
   • Art supplies
   • Makeup kit
   • Tap, jazz, or ballet shoes
   • Costumes
   • Microphone


Clothes and accessories are always a hit at Christmas—especially if you have teens in the house. These ideas show your fashion lover you care about their style.

Experience Gifts:
   • Photography session
   • Fashion show tickets
   • Modeling classes
   • Manicure and pedicure gift certificate
   • New bedroom design

Tangible Gifts:
   • Fashion books
   • Trendy clothing accessories
   • Leather boots
   • Jewelry
   • Clothing store gift card
   • Bedroom makeover supplies
   • New bed set

Budding Bookworms

Book-related gifts are a great way to foster a love of reading outside of what they are assigned to read in school.

Experience Gifts:
   • Local storytime pass
   • Attend an author visit or book signing
   • Writing classes

Tangible Gifts:
   • Book ends
   • Book light
   • E-reader
   • Magnetic clip bookmarks
   • Reading tent
   • Comfy reading chair or bean bag
   • Personalized book stamp
   • Magazine subscription

Crafty and Creative

Does your child like to create projects over time? Maybe you’re a maker-minded parent that wants your child to learn practical life skills. Here are some ideas to get your hobbyist started:

Experience Gifts:
   • Knitting, crocheting, or sewing classes
   • Woodworking classes
   • Crafts classes like jewelry making, glass blowing, or candle making

Tangible Gifts:
   • Knitting, crocheting, or sewing kit
   • Beginner sewing machine
   • Calligraphy set
   • Origami or craft paper
   • Beads or jewelry making kit

Sports Fans

Sports are not only a fun way for a child to get exercise, but they also provide an opportunity for you to connect with your kids.

Experience Gifts:
   • Tickets to a sporting event
   • Tour a sporting stadium or Hall of Fame
   • Membership to a ice or roller skating rink
   • Private sports lessons
   • Batting facility membership
   • Activity or water park membership

Tangible Gifts:
   • Sports equipment
   • Team jerseys or hats
   • Ticket stub diary
   • Fitness tracker watch
   • Gymnastics or yoga mat

Nature Lovers

Get outdoors and enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, or more with your child.

Experience Gifts:
   • Nature center membership
   • Whitewater rafting trip
   • Fishing trip
   • Beginner diving lessons
   • Zoo membership

Tangible Gifts:
   • Fishing rod and gear
   • Compass and binoculars
   • Hiking gear
   • Tent and sleeping bag
   • Canoe or kayak

Future Foodies

You could be raising the next Pioneer Woman or Bobby Flay. Support their love of creating dishes with these fun ideas.

Experience Gifts:
   • Cooking or baking lessons
   • Dinner at a fun or fancy restaurant
   • Breakfast at a fancy bakery
   • Plant a vegetable or herb garden

Tangible Gifts:
   • Cooking or baking set
   • Kids knife set
   • Personalized chef apron or jacket
   • Kids cookbooks


If your child loves STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), provide them with ways to build and create.

Experience Gifts:
   • Engineering or makers space classes
   • Science museum membership
   • Computer or coding classes

Tangible Gifts:
   • Microscope
   • Telescope
   • Building toys, blocks, and sets