Experience Gifts for Families
Experience gifts provide more than just a present. They offer a fantastic memory. Giving experiences help children try new things and reach outside their comfort zone. Under COVID, some opportunities have adapted and evolved while others have endured closures. However, families can still invest in COVID-friendly experiences that are sure to please. Here´s a list of socially distanced activities providing children with safe and exciting opportunities.
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Make it Mindful
1. Purchase a membership to a local meditation site. There are many spiritual retreats offering events for children and families following social distancing guidelines. If leaving the house isn’t an option, families can also recreate their Zen garden at home — help children create their own meditative labyrinth.
2. Yoga is excellent for physical and mental health, and classes for children and teens are standard in today's studios. Check studios in your area for discounted class packages during COVID. Some provide social distance classes or one-on-one sessions. There are also online classes; Cosmic Kids Yoga is a great starting class.
3. Give the gift of mediation by offering a yearly subscription to a meditation app. Include a meditation bench or cushion. Older teens might enjoy candles or incense. Younger practitioners may enjoy LED candles.
4. Purchase gift cards for massage for after COVID (unless your local parlor is currently operating under COVID health and safety guidelines). Better yet, create a massage basket with items for offering self-massage. Include lotions, oils, and books on reflexology and massage. "A Modern-Day Guide to Massage for Children” by Tina Allen provides the basics of touch for young readers.
Take Them Into the Great Outdoors
5. Purchase a wilderness/nature living skills program to complete now or later if COVID restrictions are in place.
6. Pitch a tent in the backyard. Connect with your children by learning how to make a fire, cook over a campfire, and investigate local nocturnal creatures in your area.
7. More adventurous families can take a camping trip. Follow local guidelines for social distancing and enjoy a nearby spot or venture to new destinations.
8. Buy a gardening kit. Purchase seeds and supplies like gloves and tools. Include a book on gardening — download information and charts from your local agriculture co-op.
9. Purchase a zoo membership. With great year-round programming for children, zoo memberships usually include workshops, classes, and special events. Some zoos have opened following social distancing guidelines. For those still closed, connect online. Some zoos offer webcams so guests can even see their favorite animals.
10. Buy a National Parks Service membership. With over 2,000 federal recreation sites in the US, a year-long pass provides the foundation for incredible adventures. You'll be making memories and supporting the vital work the Trusts/Parks do.
11. Give them the universe. Purchase a telescope and some basic astronomy books. Download Google Sky and see how many celestial bodies they can locate. Pitch a tent and sleep under the stars.
12. Introduce them to bird watching. Purchase some books on local birds and a pair of binoculars, and your little one is on their way. Getting out and about during social distancing might be tricky in some areas, so make sure to buy books that include your local feathered friends.
Feed Their Inner Foodie
13. Purchase cooking classes or a monthly cooking box subscription specifically for children. Create an accompanying basic gift package with an apron and special child-sized kitchen tools to accompany the membership.
14. Gift them a monthly baking box subscription. Purchase a decorating kit with bags, tips, dyes, and other tools of the trade. Include recipes for cakes and frostings and make sure they have all the supplies needed to make treats.
Foster a Love for the Arts
15. Museum memberships or day passes. Nature, art, science — investigate all your city has to offer. Many are now opening with limited capacity with tickets available for purchase online.
16. Find the hidden gem museums. Make sure not to overlook the local museums highlighting your city or regional interests. The International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, is currently open and following social distancing guidelines. If you want to stay closer to home, many museums, like the Spy Museum, are also offering virtual activities.
17. Movie passes. Some theaters have opened with social distancing guidelines in place. For those not yet venturing into the theater scene, bring the movie home. An Amazon Gift Card can buy new releases for family viewings. Create a gift bowl filled with popcorn and other movie treats.
18. Aquarium passes. Does your child have a fascination with aquatic life? Check out seasonal passes to your local aquarium where your family can explore.
19. Symphony subscriptions. Check to see if your city's symphony has special programming or series for families.
20. Concert venue subscriptions. Family-friendly concert venues may offer gift certificates or memberships; bonus if they also host children’s concert series.
21. Children's or community theatre subscriptions are great gifts. To bide time until the theaters reopen, many children's theaters provide virtual classes for little ones.
22. School of Rock. This fun experience has virtual options available to help foster instrument play, songwriting, or singing.
23. Theatre classes. An excellent way for children to develop self-confidence, creative thinking, and collaboration. Check theatres for child classes and camps.
24. Check out visual art classes in cartooning, photography, or digital artmaking. Look for programs through museums, art centers, or park districts.
25. Buy them a creative writing class. Is there a young poet or short story writer in your midst? Look for writing centers in your area or groups like Writopia Lab, now offering all workshops online.
26. Plan for future concerts with the gift of tickets. Tickets to see their favorite performer/entertainer is a great idea--especially for older children and teens.
27. Consider dance classes in different genres, like ballet, hip-hop, tap, or ethnic dance. Private dance studios and even city programs offer an array of choices; some are even available virtually.
28. Purchase a pottery or sculpture class. Let children see their imaginations at work in 3D.
Sports and Action-Focused
29. Buy them tickets to a sporting event. Treat the family with tickets to see their favorite sports team, including college and minor league teams.
30. Archery classes can be a great way to develop patience, balance, hand/eye coordination, etc.
31. Outdoor wilderness/nature survival courses teach perseverance while embracing respect for nature. Gift a full day of immersion in nature, learning wilderness skills and nature awareness.
32. Climbing gyms provide the gift of movement. Children are natural climbers, and many of today's indoor climbing facilities offer classes and camps for children.
33. Horseback riding lessons. Horseback riding provides a confidence-building hobby while fostering appreciation and respect for animals. Equestrian therapies also offer healing for significant behaviors, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression, which may be necessary after such an emotionally draining year.
34. Tree and rope climbing adventures give children a chance to create and meet goals and stretch outside their comfort zones. These types of experiences are available for all levels and ages, including adults.
35. Sports camps for soccer, baseball, volleyball — a camp for any sport are great ways to introduce something new.
36. Give a seasonal pass for skiing. Skiing is a great family activity providing time together and moments for flexing independence.
37. Help raise a Ninja Warrior with activity gyms. Little ones will boost their confidence and foster problem-solving skills. Check out the Ninja Guide for kid-friendly gyms across the US.
38. The sky's the limit with indoor skydiving. You'll find facilities like iFly nationwide welcoming all ages starting from three years. Teach the science of flight and wind before going and watch their eyes brighten up as they see science in action.
39. Introduce them to mini-golf. Indoor and outdoor options make mini-golf a versatile activity. Following social distancing? Create your own at-home mini-golf course!
40. Help them roll, slide, or skate into a new hobby. Ice-skating, roller skating, or skateboarding lessons equate to hours of physical fun for children and balance-teaching skills.
41. Help them tread water with swim lessons. Swimming teaches valuable skills and makes thoughtful and safety-securing gift children can do with a caregiver (babies and toddlers) or on their own. Find classes online through private organizations or your local city.
Other Interesting Ideas
42. Factory Tour passes. Both children and parents will love learning how things are made.
43. Virtual reality game centers provide an outlet for developing problem-solving skills and focus. A trip to a virtual reality center could lead to a stimulating discussion about this exciting technology.
44. Mail Order Mystery is a child-friendly story unfolding into a series of monthly mailed installments. The service is based in Toronto, Canada, but they ship worldwide.
45. Park district offerings may provide locale-specific classes or workshops. Coastal families may be able to learn from park rangers about local tide pools. Even suburban parks offer fishing classes and events for children. Most are social distance friendly.
Experience gifts provide opportunities for children to enjoy new activities and learn about subjects of interest. They help children reach further than they thought they could and foster continued growth. Providing adventures rather than objects help children see the value in time, energy, and time spent with loved ones.