Gift-giving season is upon us, and after the last few crazy years we’ve had, I think most people are feeling the need to enjoy more experiences, not have more stuff. Am I right? That’s why this year’s gift guide is all about experiences – the BEST experience gift ideas for families!
As a bonus, I’ll share ideas for how to wrap or present each gift – making your gift-giving super easy this year!
Travel-related family experience gift ideas
As a writer who focuses on inspiring busy families to create memories with day trips, weekend getaways, and everyday adventures, of course, there had better be travel-related gift ideas for families, right?
1. Weekend getaway
Pick a place within a few hours of your home, find an open weekend, and book an overnight stay. Or even just book a night in a fancy hotel in your own town if you live in a city. Pick a few fun activities to enjoy, and go ahead and book times if needed. Ditto for restaurants. This experience gift can be as extravagant or as budget-conscious as you wish.
How to give this experience gift
If the hotel/activities you’ve selected have brochures, gather them up and put them in a shoebox, along with a small ornament or picture that relates to the location. For example, if your weekend getaway is in Chicago, how about a Chicago Christmas ornament? Or a keychain, bottle opener, etc. Make (or print out) a sheet with the dates, itinerary, and any other pertinent info, stick it in the box, and wrap the whole thing up.
2. Day Trips
I’m a little partial to this one as I love a good day trip. It’s the perfect way to get a break from your normal routine and feel like you’ve “gotten away” without the hassle or planning of a trip.
How to give the gift of day trips
Similar to a weekend getaway trip, a great way to give this gift is to contact the local visitors center wherever you are headed and ask for a brochure about the location. Then you can easily wrap that up. Or, if you purchase my guide, you can print it out, stick it in a folder and wrap it.
3. Create your bucket travel list
This would be a fantastic stocking stuffer and something really fun to work on as a family over the holiday break.
Check out my friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya’s guide to create your bucket travel list. I’ve gone through it myself and it made a great jumping-off point for planning my annual travel!
How to give the gift of your bucket travel list guide
Print a nice copy of this guide and put it in a stocking. Or, you could wrap it along with an atlas or map of places you think you’d like to add to your list!
4. A subscription to Families Fly Free
This program is pretty expensive but would make an amazing family experiences travel gift. It might be something you want to purchase for your family as an investment in your future travels.
If you follow the guidelines in the program (and just do what Lyn and her team tell you to do!), you’ll be able to fly free forever! You’ll probably save more than you spent on the program in just the first few months of travel. I’m a huge proponent of Lyn’s methods and can share that I saved over $7K in 2022 on airline flights. Pretty amazing!
👉 Check out the program and sign up here!
How to give the gift of Families Fly Free
A great way to give this gift would be to make a little printable (or even a handwritten note) and put it in a box with a toy airplane. Then, to get everyone excited about the program, watch a YouTube video (like this one) together to generate ideas of where you can go and how this program can work for your family.
Tickets and Membership Family Experience Gift Ideas
Tickets and memberships are some of my favorite ideas for family gifts. They are always on my holiday shopping list.
5. Ski tickets
As a family who loves to ski, buying ski tickets guarantees we’ll get out on the slopes! Purchase tickets for the upcoming ski season at a nearby (or far away) resort and get ready for happy screams of excitement!
Plus, as a bonus, you can often buy lift tickets for less by purchasing ahead of time or watching out for deals.
How to give ski tickets
Print out your ski tickets and pop them into a new warm ski hat, mittens, or even long underwear. This is also a nice way to give a useful gift that might not normally generate a lot of excitement!
6. Activity tickets
This suggestion could cover any other type of activity that your gift recipient enjoys. Do you kids like ice skating? Tickets to the local rink. Rock climbing? Find a new rock climbing gym and purchase a session. Being outside? How about tickets to a zipline course or archery range? Or in the winter an hour or two of snow tubing?
👉Groupon is a great resource for activity tickets. And if you purchase your Groupons through Rakuten they’ll cost you even less!
7. Amusement Park tickets
Amusement park tickets are especially fun experience gift ideas for teens. What teenager doesn’t love an amusement park? I sure don’t know of any!
If you live near an amusement park, look into season passes – sometimes they are just a little bit more than a one-day pass, and this would mean an entire year of family fun!
8. Concert tickets
If there is a particular band your family loves, why not go ahead and purchase tickets for their next concert? Give the tickets to them along with the latest album or CD. Then start listening to the music to get everyone ready for the upcoming show!
9. Sporting Event tickets
Similar to concert tickets, sporting event tickets are a wonderful experience gift idea, especially for older kids or teens. If you are lucky enough to have a major (or even college) team in your city, grab tickets and plan a fun outing!
Live someplace too small for sports teams? How about season tickets to your local high school sporting events? You’ll be supporting your local community and ensuring months of fun family outings!
10. Museum Memberships
When my kids were little, we always had a membership to the local children’s museum and zoo. Now that they are older, I’ve been considering the art museum or local state museum. Regardless of what type of museum your family enjoys visiting, odds are good that they offer a membership program.
There is nothing better than having a fun place to go on a cold or rainy Saturday, and with a museum membership, you are set!
Insider tip: Many museums belong to reciprocal programs that allow you to visit not only the museum YOU belong to but many others! Check with your museum when you purchase your membership.
How to give tickets and membership experience gifts to families
Pick up a little something related to the activity or museum and tuck a printout of the tickets or brochure of the location with it. You can make this gift as simple or extravagant as you’d like.
11. State or National Park Pass
If your family loves to be outside, look into a state or national park pass. I know that here in Indiana our State Park Passes are often bundled before the holidays with a gift certificate to a State Park Inn, so it can end up being a weekend getaway gift as well as months of hiking and picnicking fun!
👉 Make the most of your State Park visits with the ideas in this post.
Family Activity Experience Gift Ideas for Families
These last few ideas would be fantastic for your family as well as giving to other families.
12. Family Game Night
Create a family game night box with a new game or two, microwave popcorn, movie candy, and some fun sodas. Every year there are at least a few new family games under the tree, and we spend all winter enjoying them!
👉 It can be hard to find a really good family game, there have been many I’ve purchased that ended up being duds. If you want sure-fire winners, check out this post on the best family games. They have stood the test of time for my family!
13. Arcade Outing
When is the last time you’ve been to an arcade? A while I bet. And have your kids ever been? Lately, a lot of arcades have been popping up in many cities so why not introduce your family to the fun that can be had playing games together?
How to give the gift of an arcade outing
Personally, I love a fun skeeball tournament, so I’ll be searching out an arcade that has plenty of skeeball machines. An easy way to give this experience would be an envelope with cash for the machines and a printout of the place you will go.
14. Food Tours
Do you have a family of foodies? How about a food tour? Many cities (large and small) have them and they can be a ton of fun!
My son and I are planning on enjoying a food tour in Ybor City on an upcoming trip to Tampa. If we enjoy it, I’ll be purchasing one for a local neighborhood in our city.
👉 Viator is my favorite resource for food tours. You can check out the reviews and pick the one that sounds perfect for your family. Here is the one we are going on, but feel free to do a search in your city!
How to give the gift of a food tour
Pick up a cookbook that highlights the region or cuisine of the food tour you selected and wrap it up with the food tour tickets.
All winter long we do puzzles. It’s an easy and affordable family activity. I set up a puzzle on the dining room table and we work on it here and there while watching TV or just hanging out after dinner. It’s a relaxing yet stimulating activity.
So, pick up a puzzle that you think your family would enjoy, wrap it up and then be sure to work on it this winter!
👉 My favorite puzzles are always made by White Mountain. Check this one out to get started for an affordable and fun family experience gift.
Conclusion: Best Experience Gift Ideas for Families
Hopefully, you’ve got some fantastic ideas for holiday gifts and are ready to make this holiday season memorable, but without a lot of extra stuff!