Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All opinions and gift giving tendencies are my own, as always!
Ever feel like you’re drowning in stuff? More specifically, your kids’ stuff? Their toys, games, sports equipment, clothes slowly start to take over. Christmas giving can compound that problem. But I have a solution: giving experiences, not things. Here are a few of my very favorite experiences to give. Also, when giving these gifts, parents receive, too.
For all kids: Swim Lessons
If you could give your children a gift that they would have their whole lives, that would bring them joy and that could help keep them both safe and healthy, it would feel like the best present ever, right? Swim lessons do all that.
If you’re worried that your children are too young or too old, they’re not. If you think your kid can swim “well enough,” know that the stronger swimmer they are and the better they know all four strokes, the more likely they are to enjoy it and stick with it.
Near me there are two Goldfish Swim Schools, in Naperville and Plainfield. They have five other locations across Chicagoland and locations in other states, including my home state of Ohio. They feature year-round swim lessons for children ages 4 months to 12 years old and promote a love of swimming and water safety. I’m a fan of the Goldfish Swim School’s holiday package, which includes 2 months of swim lessons, an annual membership fee, and a gift basket (because it’s always nice to have something to open and you can never have enough goggles, am I right?) for $185 (a $205 value!). Find the Naperville form here and Plainfield form here.
Benefit for parents: In addition to peace of mind knowing your kids are gaining a life skill, Goldfish is extending its offerings of family swims during winter break. It’s the perfect way to fight boredom and cabin fever. Non-members can attend for $5, so you can take friends and relatives, too. Get everyone out of the house, moving, and having fun together. (Don’t tell the kids, but their pool toys are awesome!) The pool is 90 degrees, so there’s lots of giggles for everyone and no shivers. Also, they’ll sleep better.
For your favorite drama queen or king: Tickets to a theater performance
Tickets to a children’s theater performance are great, and many offer affordable subscription packages. Here in Chicago, we have many great opportunities to catch amazing shows, be it from Hamilton to Chicago Children’s Theater.
Benefit for parents: Theater can be a great conversation starter. The Hundred Dresses at Chicago Children’s Theater launches several important conversations about bullying, empathy, and friendship. Kids find it much easier to talk about those topics in the context of the characters you both just saw on stage and are more likely to open up than if you are asking out of the blue.
For kids who love creatures: Adopt an animal and/or go behind the scenes at the zoo
Visiting the zoo is a special treat, and doing so more than once or twice a year can be a true gift. Many zoos have an adopt an animal program, which can be great for kids. You often get a stuffed animal and adoption papers, so they have something to open. Consider a membership and visit the animal a few times a year to see how it grows and changes.
In addition, see if your zoo or aquarium has any behind the scenes tours. The Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago has a ton of what they call Backstage Adventures, and they’re pretty awesome. (When they start offering a giraffe one, I’ll be first in line.)
Benefit for parents: The zoo is far more fascinating when you have someone explaining the animal’s behavior to you. Also, sometimes a portion of your animal adoption fee is tax deductible. It’s worth asking!
For kids who have wanderlust: Travel
Travel is another gift that will enrich kids in a way that will stay with them far into the future. Exploring a new place together can be a ton of fun, as well as a bonding experience. You can pick a destination, but make your child part of the planning. That can be half the fun.
Scheduling somewhere far away can be tricky with school and activity schedules, but even a staycation in town over winter break can be a great escape from the everyday routine. In Chicago, there are all kinds of staycation opportunities. Get a hotel room, let your kid pick a new restaurant and check out a new museum exhibit.
Definitely pick a place with a pool, no matter where you go. Studies have shown that the pool is what kids remember most about any trip, including to Disney. Really. Give them a chance to use the aforementioned swim skills!
Benefit for parents: You’ll get to know your kid in a whole different way when you have a full weekend, or more, that’s just the two of you. It’s a chance to change your perspective, both of the place you’re visiting as well as your travel companion.
For kids who love to read: Hit the bookstore
I’m old school, I know, but I’m not the only one who still likes actual books, and bookstores are pretty great places to spend some time with your kids. Head to their favorite section and just explore. Also, hit the magazine section and see what grabs your child’s eye. This can be especially good for reluctant readers. Make an adventure of it by heading to one a few towns away. While you’re there, grab a hot chocolate and cookie and carve out time to sit and enjoy.
Benefit for parents: If you love to read, it’s a chance to do that, obviously. Reading is a great stress reducer, according to the American Psychological Association as reported in Forbes here. It’s also an opportunity to get some insight into what’s going on in school and what subjects are appealing. Also, chocolate chip cookies FTW. Always.
For kids who love music: Tickets to a concert
Tickets are one of my go-to gift options lately. We’ve done both concert and theater tickets, and they have meant creating memories that we all treasure. Find a band or performer they like, and check places like StubHub to see if there are any deals to be found.
Benefit for parents: It can be a lot more fun than you may think. I have to confess that when I gave my daughter tickets to a One Direction concert at Soldier Field, I cringed. It was not my idea of a good time. I’m not great with crowds and was downright afraid of a stadium full of screaming tweens. While it was exactly that, the joy in that stadium was infectious. I had a much better time than I anticipated, and my daughter confirmed that it was all she’d hoped for and more.
For all kids: Movie tickets
There are so many good movies coming out, starting with Rogue One and extending well into 2017. I’m really excited to take my daughter to see Hidden Figures.
Benefit for parents: Pop culture knowledge, and a chance to win your Oscars pool, or at least have some inkling of who the presenters are and what the movies are about. I don’t know about you, but having kids meant a significant dive in the number of movies I’ve seen, but there are some good ones that will work for tweens, teens, and parents, and I’m excited!
For the sports obsessed kid: Tickets to a game
Cheering on a favorite team can be a great way to escape the stress of work, school, holidays, and pretty much everything else. It’s great to be really in a moment with your kid, and sometimes yelling at someone to whom you are not related is therapeutic.
Benefit for parents: It’s amazing how they’ll start talking about the most random topics during the timeouts or between innings.
What are your favorite experiences to give to kids as gifts?
You May Also Like: Tips for making the most of the colder months
Don’t miss a post! Please subscribe to Between Us Parents’ safe, spam-free email list in the box in the top right corner of the page!