Experience Gifts for Kids are the Future!
Whether it’s for a Christmas or Birthday, I seem to always be on the hunt for gift ideas for my teen daughter.
Increasingly, though, I’m trying to avoid buying yet more “stuff“. We already have crammed shelves, and wardrobes and more shoes than any human can wear in a lifetime.
Most of my friends feel like me, that our kids are drowning in a mountain of stuff. And we really want to give our children experiences – not more toys, books, gadgets and the like.
The cunning thing about experience gifts for kids and experience days is that they almost always involve giving kids the very best thing of all. That’s our time and attention.
It’s worth noting that not all gift experiences for kids need to be paid for. You could go on a picnic, have a family games day at the beach. But those days are hard to wrap up and put under the tree at Christmas.
Oh, and good luck telling any teenager that, “Surprise! I am gifting you a day out with your family at the park!”
So today I’m sharing 20 of the best experience gifts for kids. These experience days for kids based on things we’ve tried and loved. I’ve tried to suggest experiences at different budgets, depending on whether you’re looking for a big present or something a bit more budget-friendly.
If you’ve bought your children a different gift experience then please let me know in the comments so other readers can be inspired!
Best Experience Gifts for Kids at Christmas
Depending on the artist and the venue, you can get concert tickets from £25 up to £500+. Over the past few years, I’ve bought Flea big tour tickets to Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. We love Amplify tickets because they’re really family-friendly. These tickets come with parking next to the venue. You also get private toilets, bar, and sometimes a meal before the concert.
I’ve also bought tickets to smaller gigs and all-day gigs, which are far cheaper. We got tickets to the BBC Music Awards, for example, for around £40 each. I usually buy 3 tickets so Flea can take a friend. Apparently being at a concert with just your Mum is embarrassing…
Go Ape Adventure Course
We’ve had some amazing experience days out with Go Ape. When Flea was younger, we loved the course at Grizedale in the Lake District, and we’ve also done the adult course there and at Delamere Forest.
The great thing about Go Ape is its a chance for your kids to be massively better than you at something. This is especially true if you take on the adult course, in my experience. I might have stopped halfway round to have a little cry.
I think go karts are often seen as an activity for younger children but actually, once kids turn 12, they can usually ride the faster, more powerful adult go karts. This makes for quite a thrilling day out!
As an added bonus this sort of experience day is way cheaper than the Chill Factore across the road.
At 12, Flea decided she was old enough to go to the cinema without me. So for her birthday, I bought her a cinema gift voucher that was enough for her and 2 friends to go and see a film. Parents dropped the kids off, and I sat in a coffee shop across the road while the girls watched the film.
It was fairly inexpensive, but Flea was SO excited to have the chance to be a bit independent with her friends.
The thing about skateboarding is it looks so cool. But it’s also ridiculously hard to learn. And frequently painful. With this in mind, I bought Flea a series of 12 lessons in skateboarding.
There are a bunch of places where you can book skateboard lessons for kids. At the time, we went to Projekts in Central Manchester, but since then our local YMCA has also started lessons. At both places we were able to buy 12 lessons via pre-payment. Making this a GREAT gift experience for kids.
Flea thought it was cool to learn tricks from a proper skateboarder. Meanwhile, I was reassured she wasn’t going to crack her skull learning that stuff on her own.
Mini Spa Day
This year for her birthday, Flea wasn’t sure what she wanted for her ‘experience’ gift. After much thought she decided it would be fun to go and have a manicure with her friends at a proper beauty salon.
There are a growing number of day spas and salons offering services to over 12s, although you might need to hunt around a bit. If there isn’t a local option for a spa-style experience day for kids, then you can usually book a manicure person to come to the house – Bio Sculpture offers vegan, cruelty-free products and their therapists are often available for in-home services.
I don’t know about your teen, but a visit to the cinema isn’t a big deal for Flea these days.
Going to the theatre, though? That’s still a bit fancy, and special. Flea has had a few theatre token gifts, and has chosen to see shows like Matilda, Wicked and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I think tickets to concerts and the theatre make great presents because you often need to book months ahead, and it gives kids the chance to experience looking forward to something! Helen has some great tips on shows to see during Kids Week in London.
One of Flea’s very favourite experiences was taking a DJ class with an actual DJ. We did this on holiday in Jamaica, but there are very similar offerings available closer to home.
With this sort of thing, kids get the chance to learn about mixing records and using decks. Kids will usually also get an MP3 file to take home as a souvenir.
Animal Experience Gifts for Children
If you have a child who loves animals, why not buy them an animal experience gift for Christmas? Most zoos and wildlife parks offer some sort of experience gift for young people.
If you have a child with a passion for music, then guitar lessons can be a great experience gift. In our family, this has been a GREAT gift for grandparents to buy, when funds were tight.
But be careful – Flea did guitar lessons at school, so the idea of extra lessons at home just felt like ‘homework’. She much preferred the idea of going into a recording studio with friends and making a record!
This is another experience gift that’s great for grandparents to buy for children.
It gives them a chance to contribute to their grandchild’s life in a really meaningful way, that’s also fun. Most swimming pools will let you book up lessons a term or month in advance, and you can present the lessons to kids with some fun new pool accessories or diving toys.
I’m including lifeguard classes in this list of experience gifts because once Flea hit senior school, she felt she was too old for swimming lessons. She’d passed her “gold” swimming certificate and wasn’t interested in competing, so what next?
The Rookie Lifeguard programme is for kids aged 8 and over. It takes young people through a series of training sessions covering swimming, life-saving, first aid and more. For Flea, it was a lot more challenging and fun than swimming classes.
If you have a child aged 12 or over, did you know they can do an off-road driving experience in a top of the line Range Rover? This was one of Flea’s presents last Christmas and they take place all over the UK.
I loved it because they can drive a really cool car, and go up and down slopes and through muddy streams. What could be more fun? This was probably one of our all-time favourite experience days with kids, and the girls had an absolute blast.
Rent a Boat
One of our favourite things to do is head to the Lake District for a family day out.
Why not upgrade the experience by renting a boat and letting your child bring a friend for a day of water-based fun? It’s one of those experience gifts for kids that can involve the whole family!
At Coniston you can rent boats, kayaks and paddle boards for a day on the water. And as an added bonus, it’s some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
A Day at the Wake Park
If you’re lucky enough to live near a wake park, these make a AMAZING day out for older kids and teens, and it’s one of the most affordable experience gifts for kids. Our local wake park lets kids try out wake boarding for around £10/hour, with wetsuit hire available for just a few pounds.
Even better, the site also has a massive inflatable adventure play area, so the kids can make a day of it, with a picnic to keep their energy up.
Warner Bros, Harry Potter Studio Tour
We are enormous fans of the Harry Potter Studio Tour near London. Actually, I think we’ve now visited six times (see our top tips here). For my money, this is one of the best experience gifts for kids – especially if you can visit around Christmas or another “special” season.
Make sure you book well ahead, as tickets tend to sell out weeks ahead for school holiday periods. But there is absolutely loads to do here, from riding broomsticks to learning how to use a wand.
You’ll see sets and props from the movie, and get to glimpse so many behind the scenes secrets. It’s a truly fabulous day out.
TV Presenting Course
Attending a two-day TV presenting course was a fab experience gift. Flea actually loved this gift so much she’s attended two workshops. One was in Manchester at MediaCity, and the other at Pinewood Studios. You can see our detailed review here.
Available for kids aged 7 and up, the workshop covers presenting techniques, working with co-presenters and puppets. You’ll get a showreel with 3 clips to take away.
If you have an adventurous child, then ziplining might be the perfect experience day for kids. For my brother’s 50th birthday I bought him vouchers to go on the world’s fastest zipline, at ZipWorld in North Wales.
He took my niece and nephew (13 and 16) and they loved it! I’m so jealous and already planning a trip for us to visit.
My child loves anything to do with the water, and surfing was always on her wishlist. But let me tell you something, friends. Surfing is incredibly hard.
Surf lessons are an absolute must if you want to have an outside chance of standing up on your board during your next summer holiday. They’re an ideal experience gifts for kids because they give your child something to look forward to!
They’re available all over the country, and for around £50/hour you’ll get small group or one-to-one tuition. I think single tuition is worth the extra few pounds if you’re buying this as an experience gift. Flea always learns so much more when she has someone coaching her consistently.
Buying a cookery class as experience gifts for kids is a textbook win-win situation. They learn to cook something lovely, you get to eat it!
Flea has done a few cookery experiences – we’ve done a few on holiday, including learning to make pizza in Florence (above). Closer to home, The Royal Garden Hotel in London sometimes offers cookery classes with chefs over school holidays, and there are pizza-making parties at Pizza Express.
So there you have it. 20 awesome experience gifts for kids to consider this Christmas, or for your next birthday purchase. If you’ve had a great experience gift experience, or have an idea for an experience day for kids that we’d love, let me know in the comments!