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The holidays are here and I’m so excited to be celebrating Emma’s first Christmas this year! Since my other two are older, and were born so close together, I don’t remember much from this stage because it was all a blur and honestly I was just trying to survive with two under two. It’s been fun watching my daughter as she takes in the lights and everything else this holiday season holds. As we get closer to Christmas though I’ve been on the hunt for Christmas gifts for my kids. For Emma (who has a birthday several days after Christmas) I have things I’d like to get her but I’m hoping to find everything I want used from online garage sale sites and thrift stores or at the store if I can find great deals (like I did with this food truck that I got for just a third of the advertised store price using gift cards and a coupon). I’m also adding some experience gifts to the list because a kid can only have so many toys! Some of these are places you can take the kids but some of these experience gift ideas are things you can do at home with your child.
As much as experience gifts are for the child, I think they are just as great for mom, dad, or grandma who gets to join in on the fun with the little one! Here are ten great experience gift ideas for toddlers:
What toddler wouldn’t want to spend time with his or her favorite adult baking cookies, decorating them with an overload of frosting and sprinkles (like Luke’s gingerbread man above), and then – best of all- getting to eat their creation?! Cookie making will be messy but what fun toddler activity isn’t? A baking kit for a toddler can include a child-sized apron, kid-friendly kitchen tools, a cookie mix, sprinkles in their favorite color, and a tub of frosting.
We love going to the zoo and the great thing about zoo memberships is children can enjoy the zoo through all the seasons. Brookfield Zoo here in the Chicago suburbs has many fun events throughout the year including Summer Nights with live music and family fun in the summer, Boo at the Zoo for Halloween costume fun, and Zoo Lights during the holidays.
When my oldest was about 18 months old I made him a toddler art station. On the easel there were papers and large chunky crayons to color with (we used Crayola jumbo crayons and crayons I made out of old recycled crayons but now a decade later we have more choices like these 100% natural Honeysticks made from beeswax which won’t harm toddlers when ingested and are almost impossible for them to break). I also put together a craft kit full of toddler friendly craft supplies he could use to create open-ended art projects with adult supervision. I included finger paints, cotton balls, feathers, foam stamps, safety scissors, dot markers, a long sleeved art smock, and more. You can make your own DIY kit or buy a premade one like this kit from Alex.
Tinkergarten is a national program that offers children a chance to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a number of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Their expert-designed classes and activities help kids ages 6 months—8 years develop core life skills while enjoying healthy, fun, engaging experiences in the physical freedom of local outdoor spaces. If you are in the Chicago suburbs I’d love to introduce you to some local Tinkergarten leaders I know or you can look for classes nearby you here.
“Snow Much Fun” Kit
Winter means snow here in Chicago so gifting some fun items your toddler can use during the winter months just makes sense. Giving them a sled like this infant boggan could make for a fun afternoon on a snowy day. The Snow Much Fun Kit you put together could also include a snowsuit, waterproof mittens (with strings), and some little shovels, buckets, and shape forms (bonus- the beach toys can then be used in the summer, too). Too cold to go outside? Bring the snow inside and put it in giant plastic tub or the kitchen sink.
Children’s Museum Membership
When my boys were young I loved taking them to our local children’s museum. There they could learn new concepts, be creative, and explore the world around them in a safe environment that was made just for them. Gifting a membership to a children’s museum will give the toddler in your life a place to go on rainy days, chilly winter days, and any time their caregiver wants to get out of the house. In the Chicago area we love the Chicago Children’s Museum and the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville!
Science Subscription Box
Children ages 2 and up would love to receive a subscription box every month filled with fun science experiments that they can do with their mom or dad. Science concepts for children this young are kept simple, like learning about the colors that make up the rainbox and different animals. For toddlers, the KiwiCo Koala Crate is a good choice along with the Green Kids Crafts Junior Boxes that are made to “deliver discovery, learning and fun to children”.
- Music Lessons
- Dance Class
- Sports Lesson
- Sensory table or tub (like this hot cocoa sensory tub I made)
- Membership to a local children’s garden
- Swim Lessons
- Water table and other items for backyard fun
- Nature kit with magnafying glass, bug catcher, and a book about bugs
- Gymnastics Class
- Membership to an indoor children’s play attraction
- Sports sets (like this tball set or this basketball hoop)
- Musical Instruments (like a classic xylophone or a drum)
- Trip to an indoor waterpark
- Gardening kit with seeds to plant, cute rain boots, toddler sized gardening tools, and this cute gardening board book
Then there’s always the greatest gift of all time….a big box that can be turned into anything your little toddler can imagine!
What’s your favorite experience gift? Chat with me on social and let me know!