Giving experiences instead of material gifts is an amazing option for teens, tweens and kids who often seem to have everything they need already. It’s often hard to come up with ideas something they will enjoy and since every teen and tween is different, we created this list with ideas for experience gifts for teens, tweens and older kids so there is something for everyone.
When you are looking for the best experience gifts for kids of any ages, it’s helpful to look locally. Some of the ideas below are things you can find locally or you can search for them close to where you live. These ideas can be used for any older kids and teens and many of these ideas are perfect for kids who love adventure.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out ideas for travel gifts and camping gifts.
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Why Experience Gifts for Teens Make Awesome Gifts
Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have determined that younger kids (under age 5) understand and appreciate material gifts more than experiences: however, older kids and especially teens will appreciate getting an experience as a gift. Giving experience gifts for teens also gives you the opportunity to do something with your child or give your kids the opportunity to experience or learn something new.
How many gifts have you given your kids only to have them sit on a shelf? or get used for a short time and then discarded? Finding the best experience gifts for teenager and older kids means taking the interest of your kid into account.
We’ve put together this tremendous list of experience gifts for teens, tweens, and kids focused around travel and spending time outside.
Experience Gifts for Kids, Tweens and Teens
This list of experience gifts for teens, tweens and kids is in no particular order.
Escape rooms make a fun night out for tweens and adults. Many escape rooms have options for kids and teens and you can give this as an experience gift for the family or something your teen can do with their friends. If you don’t have an escape room near you, there are many games now that are based on the idea of an escape room and you can set up an evening of fun for your teen with their own escape room.
You can also search for escape room experiences through Viator.
If you’re looking for a different experience gift for your a kid, try giving a trip dog sledding. You will need to look for a local dog sledding operation, or you can plan a trip to a special destination as a bigger experience gift. There are several places to find dog sledding experiences online. You can find some options here or do a search nearby.
Find a nearby kayak tour, or consider renting kayaks for a day. If you’re kid or teen is already an experienced kayaker, consider renting or planning a paddle boarding trip to try something new.
River Rafting or Tubing
A river rafting or tubing adventure makes a great adventure experience gift for kids and teens. This can be a family trip you can all do together and will also give you a lasting memory. There many be a rafting experience nearby or you may need to look at the closest mountains for a great option. If your kids aren’t excited about rafting, many places offer tubing experiences as well.
Rock Climbing Adventure
This is an awesome experience gift for boys or girls. You can usually find guided rock climbing activities at your local rock gym or find a tour online. Memberships to rock climbing gyms also make awesome experience gifts for teens and kids. We’ve done a few guided rock climbs as a family (in Panama and Thailand) and our kids always love it!
A Day in the City
Give your kid a day in the city. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want. Lunch out and a museum, 3 meals and shopping, let your kids choose. The options are limitless and you can all enjoy the chance to explore your nearest city!
Go to a Concert
Concerts make excellent experience gifts, especially when it’s a musical group your kids like! Depending on the concert and your kid’s age, you can either go to the concert with them, or get some extra tickets for their friends.
See Live Theatre
Nothing quite beats live theatre and giving tickets as an experience gift for your teen is a great way to enjoy a fun evening out. When our children turn 10, 14 and 18 we take them on solo trips and my daughter’s last trip was going to New York city to see Wicked. She loved it and it made the perfect experience gift.
Lessons Something New – music, cooking, art, photography, sports
This is a pretty large option, but includes giving your kids chance to learn something new. Experience gifts ideas for learning something new include online lessons, classes, in person workshops and more. Find out what interests you kid and look for local options or online courses for them to learn more.
Ziplining or a High Ropes Course
So many places now offer zip lining and many travel destinations have outdoor high ropes courses. This is the perfect experience gift for adventurous kids and teens. You can often find ziplining at your resort or look for tours here.
Give your teen or tween a fishing trip. Deep sea fishing and even learning to fly fish is a great option as an experience gifts to tweens and teens. The best part of this gift is that if you know someone who fishes, you can often work something out with them to help plan your own fishing trip.
Find options online near you or search at Viator.
This is high on my own kids wish list. Give your kids the chance to learn how to surf with a surfing lesson. You can often find 1-2 hour long lessons to get your kid started, or even book a longer surfing vacation. It’s also possible to reserve a surfing board for a few hours as an experience gift. This is best if your teen/tween/kid has some surfing experience, but can also be good for newbies if the surf shop can provide a few minutes intro. We did this on our trip to Puerto Rico.
Horseback riding is so fun and not something most people do everyday which makes it a great experience gift. Look locally for horseback riding opportunities or book a horseback ride on your next vacation as a fun experience gift.
Take your teen or kid to a sports game or event as a fun experience gift. Consider including their friends or siblings and make it into an event. You can choose a professional game such as basketball, football, baseball or hockey, but don’t overlook some of the less popular events – these tend to be just as fun and often don’t cost as much. You can also choose a sporting event that interests your kid. Consider tickets to watch: soccer, swimming, skiing, golf, tennis, sailing, or so many of the lesser known sports.
You can often find tickets to sporting events a local schools or nearby cities.
Most kids love waterparks and a trip to your nearest waterpark makes an awesome experience gift for teens and kids. You can also find indoor waterparks that are part of resorts. Give your kid a ticket to the waterpark with a friend or sibling.
This is an easy and fun experience gift and kids will enjoy the freedom to go to the movies when they want. This also make a less expensive option when you are trying to find the perfect experience gifts for teens and kids.
An Overnight Trip (maybe with a friend)
This is more of a general idea and one you might want your teen or kid to help plan. A night or weekend away can be a great experience gift idea. You can make it as epic or as simple as you want. Even just taking your teen and a friend to a hotel for a night can be incredibly fun!
We’ve done this several times with our own kids. You can really cater this to your kid – if your kid loves to camp, take them camping with a friend. If your kid loves sushi, do a night out in a nearby city and go out for sushi. Be creative and make it fun for your kid. You can also plan a solo trip with just you and your kid – we do solo trips with our kids when they turn 10, 14 and 18 and this makes a great gift!
This is a slightly different type of experience gift, but find a charity donation (or let you kids help choose their own charity) and make a donation. Spend some time doing a little research to make sure that the organization you choose to donate to is reputable and uses the donation to make an impact. You can find list of large charitable donations, but consider looking local at the smaller organizations doing work in your own community.
Money and they Plan the Experience
Can’t think of the perfect experience gift for your teen? Let them decide! Give them a budget and ask them to choose their own experience. You can share a few suggestions but then get them actively involved in making their own plans!
Did we miss any experience gifts for teens, tweens and kids? Let us know and we’ll continue to add to the list!
How to Give Experience Gifts to Teens
Below you can see a few thoughts about how to give the best experience gift for teens, tweens and kids.
Get creative when you give your experience gift to your kid. Wrap it with a related gift, print out a fun poem or brochure or make a scavenger hunt for your kid. Making it fun and special goes a long way
Should you do the experience with your teen?
This is up to your teen. In general giving a gift you can do together is often the best option. This ends up being a gift for both of you and can help build a strong relationship. On the other hand, an occasional experience gift that includes your kid’s friends can be so fun for your kid.
What to do if your kid would rather have material gifts instead of experiences?
If you’ve always given your kid lots of material gifts and suddenly one year the only thing they see is a card with an experience they may not seem as excited as your hope. While they may still love their gift, it might be helpful to prepare them for the shift. If kids know that something is coming it helps them prepare. You can also ask your kids directly what they prefer: experiences versus material gifts, you may be surprised!
Do you have other ideas for experience gifts for teens, tweens and kids? Drop a comment and let us know!
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