If your family is anything like mine, then your kids are not in need of any more toys. In fact, if you’re a lot like me, then you actively purge toys before big holidays and birthdays (and any other time it just feels right). This has led to me requesting more and more experience gifts in lieu of toys for special occasions, and they are ALWAYS big hits! From subscription boxes, to memberships, to tickets for special events, read on to learn about the best experience gifts for kids in Birmingham. Then feel free to pass this post along to any family members who have the love language of gifting.
Cook Museum of Natural Science is the perfect place to find experience gifts for the kids in your life this holiday season! This state-of-the-art museum in Decatur, AL provides an up-close look at nature that is both fun and educational. Gift cards to the museum are good for tickets, memberships, classes, camps, & Museum Store or Nature’s Table purchases. The Museum Store has popular gifts, including MagnaTiles, Fat Brain Toys, jewelry, home decor, and more. No ticket necessary to shop! They will even have a full calendar of events throughout Christmas break, including Forester for a Day camp, a holiday scavenger hunt through the exhibits, live animal feedings, and more.
We have a zoo membership and it has consistently been worth it over the past 5ish years. As a SAHM mom to preschoolers, and now a homeschooling mom, there are few places more helpful to have access to than our local zoo. Knowing that we can go to the zoo and only spend a short time there makes our trips more enjoyable because we never feel the need to cram everything in to one day. I’m hoping for a McWane membership next, which is helpful for both the actual science center and parking deck. (If you’ve spent much time downtown, you get the parking thing.)
Oak Mountain State Park even has an annual membership if you have outdoorsy kiddos! If you are up for a day trip, Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur is a big hit with kids, and Majestic Caverns is an outdoor adventure your family will never forget! And don’t forget season passes to Alabama Adventure and Splash Adventure! We love going to this very clean and fun theme park in Bessemer all summer long.
Recently, we’ve been exploring more indoor activities, like climbing and trampoline parks, which also offer memberships. No matter what your children are interested in, you can probably find a membership that will be perfect for them. Plus, with some of these memberships, you can get discounted admission to locations and similar places in other cities; just be sure to check out their networks and any rules the chains have. Memberships are truly the gifts that keep on giving.
Do your kids like doing special activities that tend to cost upwards of $100 for both parents and one child to attend, not to mention any siblings or childcare needed? Then this idea is for you! One of the best gifts we’ve gotten has been tickets to watch The Nutcracker at the Alabama Theatre. Since this present was from grandparents, childcare was included, too! Yes, it was before Christmas, but that just made it more magical.
Does the kid in your life like Dinosaurs or Monster Trucks or Football games or Ballet performances? Maybe they’re into movies or Disney or soccer? Whatever they like, Birmingham has something to offer them. My daughter still talks about watching The Nutcracker at Christmas, and we saw it three years ago. (She is six, so that was literally half-a-lifetime ago.)
If you like taking day trips, then ask for activities or tickets in another city! Plan ahead and get tickets for the local aquarium or a fun museum so you’ll have a big activity to do that won’t cut into your budget. (We once got tickets to the Tennessee aquarium and made a day trip out of it! It was so fun!!) If you need ideas for this, check out our series of Quick Getaways to Huntsville, Atlanta, and Montgomery. One of the best presents I got from my parents growing up was actually a trip! I don’t have many things left from when I was 17, but I’ll always have those memories.
Classes, Lessons, or Camps
Okay, this sounds boring, but hear me out. How many kids have an extracurricular they love that is not cheap (and maybe not even actually affordable for your family)? Why not let those Mason Music lessons be a gift instead of spending your hard-earned cash on clutter? Do you have a little ballerina that would love a special bag or cover-up for cold class days? Would coding lessons be the perfect activity for your little computer scientist? Have you been eyeing lessons at Goldfish Swim School for your mermaid-wannabe?
Do you, a non-artistic parent, have a budding artist child? Then find some painting classes (either online or in person can be great)! I’ve even found some local baking classes for kids, so that’s probably going to be on our list very soon. With the internet, virtually no interest is off-limits, here! I know some parents worry about screen-time, so why not find a way to make it helpful AND fun?
Don’t forget about summer camps, either! With all of the hubbub around holiday events right now, it can be easy to forget about (the sometimes boredom of) summer! We have great local camps for kids with any particular interest, so if you’re wanting a gift for after the Christmas excitement is over, this is a wonderful idea!
This one is super popular right now, and with good reason. My kids get STEM boxes as birthday gifts from their grandparents every year, and years later they still love them. We currently get Kiwi Co, but I also have my eye on Little Passports, which is another themed activity box. Owl Crate, Jr. looks really fun, too, but my littles are still too young for that one. Lovevery is great for accumulating high-quality, developmentally appriopriate toys for babies and toddlers.
I love having fun, enriching activities for my kids to do, but sometimes the planning and supply-shopping just makes my to-do list too long. If you want an all-in-one activity shipped directly to your door with minimal parental planning required, I cannot recommend subscription boxes enough! Plus, it seems like there is a box for any interest nowadays. I just saw a new one specifically for cooking; how cool is that?
While not exactly an experience gift, what kid doesn’t love getting mail? What parent doesn’t like having a suddenly free afternoon while their kid is doing an educational activity? Highlights has great activity magazines for kids of most ages, and The Lego Magazine is always a good choice.