Experience gifts for children are a great way to gift lovingly to children, without adding to the pile of things that kids receive around the holidays from parents, extended family and Santa Claus. Experience gifts, and non-toy gifts still create the magic and fun of receiving gifts – and are perfect for families that are trying to embrace more of a minimalist lifestyle.
ANNUAL PASSES AND MEMBERSHIPS
- TELUS WORLD OF SCIENCE
Not only does a Telus World of Science annual membership give you access to the great spaces to play, and ongoing activities in places like the Science Garage, but you’ll get reduced admission to special events taking place at the centre, and movie tickets. It’s $229 for the whole family!
- EDMONTON ATTRACTION PASSES
You can purchase for up to 8 people on one Pass giving you access to the city’s hottest Attractions, including the Valley Zoo, Jurassic Forest, TELUS World of Science and more – all at an attractively discounted rate!
- ROYAL ALBERTA MUSEUM MAMMOTH PASS
For little kids and parents searching for indoor places to play and explore, the Royal Alberta Museum will give you the best bang for your buck.
- TODDLER TIME ANNUAL PASS. WEM Waterpark, Galaxyland, for toddlers (or children under 48″ for World Waterpark, annual passes for toddler time, a few hours a day when toddlers plus one parent enter the park on the cheap, the annual pass provides an excellent value.
- EDMONTON VALLEY ZOO. There’s only one day of the year that the Edmonton Valley Zoo is closed, and that, combined with the fact that it’s so affordable, make it a very popular experience membership gift. There are new activities going on every single week!
FUN (BUT NON-TOY GIFTS TO WRAP UP)
- PAJAMAS WITH A TWIST. What’s the twist? include a small gift card to visit one of the local places to get ice cream, even McDonald’s or Dairy Queen, in your pyjamas. This one is a favourite with our kids!
- COSTUMES AND DRESS-UP ACCESSORIES. We love the selection of dress-up costumes and accessories at IKEA for kids – but you can also find a great selection, online here.
- TEMPORARY TATTOOS. I don’t know about your kids, but temporary tattoos are one of their love languages. We love these ones, and these unicorn temporary tattoos, and these dinosaur temporary tattoos.
- HP SPROCKET PHOTO PRINTER. This easy to use smartphone printer creates a sticker for the images that are printed and comes with an easy to use app. If your kid already has a mobile phone, this is a great option because you can use the camera in the phone, combined with the app to create stickers.
- STRING LIGHTS THAT HANG PHOTOS – a perfect gift to accompany a small photo printer! We love these ambient, cozy lights in our house and even better that you can hang photos!
- MAGNET DRAWING BOARD WITH PEN. This
- TRADING CARDS. Hockey cards, Pokemon cards, collectible cards – these are a great collection adding gift, without bringing more toys into the home. It’s also a great option for tweens, that are a bit harder to shop for.
- NEON SIGN. Neon signs make fun nightlights for the bedroom. You can find smaller neon signs that create ambience, and add some fun flair to your kids’ room. We loved Amped & Co. and you can often find the neon lights on sale at Chapters Indigo.
- ZOKU SLUSH MAKER. This one is a favourite around here, and gets constantly used to make juice, chocolate milk, and other drinks into icy-delicious, slushies. You just stash the cup in the freezer, and use the included small spatula to turn a drink into slush, in minutes.
- CUSTOM CAPE. Shutterfly has incredible custom capes and masks that can be created with kids names, and multiple designs. These are an incredibly fun way to add some imagination to playtime, and come in at under twenty bucks on sale!
- NINJA ROPE LINE! For active kids, this gift is going to provide hours and hours of entertainment during the summer – and if you’ve got a place to set it up indoors, even better. What a fun way to work off some of that winter energy, right?
- HARRY POTTER INVISIBILITY CLOAK. If you’ve got a Harry Potter fan at home, this gift is going to make top marks this year as one of the hottest of the season. Designed to look like Harry’s cloak, kids can use an app to make themselves look invisible when they’re wearing it!
- A MINI DOUGHNUT MAKER. You can find some great recipes for doughnuts to make in this easy to use contraption, but you can also throw in pancakes and get doughnut shaped pancakes.
- JANOME KIDS SEWING MACHINE. Do you have a kid that loves to sew? The Janome sewing machine is a go-to for our kids to craft everything from small purses, to doll clothes and is easy to use, easy to set-up and created to last!
- DIGITAL CAMERA. Using a digital camera, kids can document their adventures and their lives, and if yours are anything like ours, I’m often surprised to see just what they’ve captured. We like this waterproof camera, that’s great for vacation, summer and more.
- NANCY B SCIENCE ‘TOYS’. These are toys, but they’re not toys, You know what I’m saying? From the science kits and microbes, to the stir it up Chemistry lab, it’s one of those things that your kids are going to love – and you will too.
- OSMO DETECTIVE GAME. Try the Osmo detective game if you’re looking for a new, interactive way for your kids to combine games, and technology. You’ll need to have the OSMO base in order to play this game.
CLASSES AND EXPERIENCE PASSSES
- DROP IN OPEN STUDIO. Creation Space is full of magic. This weekly drop-in session can be purchased ahead of time for children for toddlers and preschool children. Are you looking for an incredible creation experience for older children? They’ve got multiple winter registered classes for older children there too.
- FAMILY ART SESSION. Find a local 4Cats location and book your family art session, whether you want to make a Family Splatter paint, or take home a project that you’ve made of clay, you can get four passes for $65 for their fun workshops!
- MOVIE PASSES. Visiting the movies with the kids through the year can be expensive – especially when you’re bringing more than one kid. Use gift cards, movie passes for kids that include kids admission and popcorn with treats make it easier to bring the kids and make a great experience gift for kids.
- THE REC ROOM. Bowling, games and kid-friendly food, The Rec Room gift certificates, or fun game tags bracelets are a fun gift that can be redeemed later for a fun experience playing games.
- CONCERT OR PLAY TICKETS. Concert tickets for an upcoming concert (find the listings for January/February/March at Ticketmaster, here) are a great option for an experience gift that the kids can get excited about! Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs is playing in March at Festival Place.
- CLIP N CLIMB. The newest (and most popular) kids climbing gym in the city is a fun place to blow off some steam during the winter months. You can get one hour for $20 for Clip n Climb, something to keep in mind when you’re booking the experience.
- SNOW TUBING AT SUNRIDGE. Kids must be at least seven years old to go on the tubing hill at Sunridge, but this is a pretty cost effective gift, coming in at just over twenty bucks!
- HOCKEY TICKETS. Hockey tickets for an Edmonton Oilers Game, or an Oil Kings game is a great way to explore Rogers Place, spend an afternoon or evening downtown and are a great option for an experience gift for small (and big) hockey fans.
- EDMONTON ICE CASTLES. With the colder weather comes the magic of the ice castles. Created in Hawrelak Park during the Silver Skate Festival, it’s a magical castle of ice that has been a staple of winter weather during the past few months.
EXPLORING AND TRAVEL GIFTS
- SLEEPOVER AT ROYAL TYRELL. Explore the Royal Tyrrell, at night. For a reasonable price, you can sleepover at the museum and take part in specialized programming after-hours.
- FOREIGN CURRENCY. This is a fun gift for an upcoming vacation, that puts a little more fun into the gift than straight up Canadian cash!
- HEADLAMP! Whether you’re exploring outdoors by headlamp, or bringing it along on those night time adventures so you can see, it’s a durable gift perfect for every explorer – plus, it’s easier than a flashlight for summer camping season!
- FANTASYLAND THEME ROOM STAYCATION. Check during the fall and winter, because there are promotions where you can stay in one of the themed rooms for under two hundred dollars. It’s a great chance to check out the new space themed room, and spend the morning at Galaxyland or the World Waterpark.
- SEA LION ENCOUNTER. Did you know that you can book a sea lion encounter at West Edmonton Mall? Kids 8+ can experience being a trainer for a day in this fun program where they get to be up close and personal with a sea lion!
MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION GIFTS
Monthly subscription gifts are gifts that give throughout the year. These gifts are delivered monthly and can bring fun, without the bombardment of toys around the holidays. Here are some of our favourite non-toy Christmas gifts for kids, in the form of subscription gifts:
- PIPSTICKS: Sticker Subscription Club. Every month, get a package of stickers delivered to your inbox. This sticker subscription is unique because of the wow-factor that starts from the moment the package arrives in the mail in those brightly covered bold envelopes. Shipping is $2 to Canada and the monthly subscription is $17.95. You’ll see why it’s worth it when the stickers arrive! Use the code ‘STICKERSROCK‘ to get 50% off of your first month.
- MEL SCIENCE CLUB: This one is a monthly science club that brings experiments to your door (cool, cool experiments in Chemistry that your kids are going to love). For $44.95/month, kids receive 2-3 science experiments.
- NIKE SUBSCRIPTION CLUB. Sneakers, delivered right to your door. You can choose the frequency of the deliveries, that include not only a cool new pair of shoes, but activities and fun delivered with the subscription.
- A magazine subscription. Highlights, Chirp and Chickadee are three popular choices with younger kids – but you can always browse the local book store for more niche options for kids magazine subscriptions in Canada.
KID-FRIENDLY BOARD GAMES
Board games are one of our favourite gifts to give our friends, our kids, and pretty much every single person on our list. Whether it’s a first-time board game for a toddler or preschooler, or a complex board game where kids are forced to really get in it and pay attention, and even those games that are just for fun, with no strategy whatsoever – we love us some kid-friendly board games.
Here are our favourite board games to give kids this year for Christmas this year:
- CATAN JUNIOR. A Catan adventure for fledgling swashbucklers. Explore the Seas Catan: Junior introduces a modified playing style of the classic game giving younger players the opportunity to experience the world of Catan. Designed for players as young as 5 and is a perfect introduction to the Catan series of games for kids and families. Catan: Junior takes place on a ring of islands where 2 to 4 players build hideouts, and the mysterious Spooky Island, where the Ghost Captain lives.
- SEQUENCE DOGS. Sequence is one of those games that you’re going to play over and over with the kids. It’s a card game, board game, strategy game that’s one of our favourite adult games – and the dog version is a great introduction for the kids.
- MARBLE STOMPLES. This one’s on sale! In this game, players take turns stomping marbles through the board using their Stomper piece. Try to trap your opponents by leaving them with no marbles to stomp. If you can’t stomp a marble on your turn, you’re out of the game. The last player left on the board wins.
- OH SNAP. In ‘OH SNAP’ it’s a game of wits, as you choose which pieces to remove from the board to avoid the board snapping shut on your fingers.
- BOUNCE OFF. One of our absolute favourite games to play and you’ll likely have an edge on your kids because you’ve played beer pong before – this game is lots of fun. You’ve got to bounce the balls to make lines on the board.
- CODENAMES DISNEY FAMILY. In this game, Two Cluemasters give one-word clues to help their teammates identify the Disney characters, locations and items from a 25 card game grid. Including both pictures and words, it’s family fun for Disney fans of all ages.
- AVALANCHE FRUIT STAND. This one is a great choice for younger kids, but will entertain the whole family. Using the tweezers, kids will try and remove the fruit from the stand without making the whole thing topple over!
- HAPE STORMY SEAS. Stormy Seas Watch out for stormy seas. In this stacking game the boat is ready to be loaded with cargo and the seas are moving the boat up and down and sideways. Players must carefully load the boat while balancing the cargo. Rolling the die indicates the next type of item to get loaded.