Can you feel it? From the temperature changes to the smell of chestnuts roasting over an open fire, and the holidays “deals” flooding your inbox, December and the holiday season are officially here! With gift-giving at the top of everyone’s mind and little ones dreaming about what special presents they will receive, parents are beginning their search for the best toys, games, and activities for their kids to enjoy. While receiving toys always brings joy to every child, studies have shown that an environment with fewer toys is better for your child’s overall development, allowing them to engage in healthier play, leading to deeper cognitive development.

With endless options for what to gift that special child in your life, consider thinking outside of the proverbial “present box” and inspire your child with the gift of an experience! There are loads of experiences that will fuel their imaginations, promote positive social interaction and gives both the child and the gift giver memories that will last far beyond a single day!  Experience gifts can be one-time adventures or ongoing occurrences, extravagant or home-grown, elaborate or simple.  Below are just a few examples!

1. Tickets to an event: Whether it’s a concert, play, sporting event, or even a monster truck rally, looking forward to an upcoming event can be almost as exciting as going to it. By simply exposing kids to the Arts and creative outlets, they might be inspired to try it out for themselves.

2. Membership to a children’s museum, zoo or amusement park: An annual pass to nearby attractions encourages family outings and helps create priceless family memories that can last a lifetime in your child’s mind.

3. Classes in a Child-Focused Program: Places like The Little Gym, an art studio, or cooking class come with the opportunity to improve existing skills and learn new ones. Programs like The Little Gym allow children to build their self-confidence, make new friends and express their unique personalities in a fun, warm, nurturing and safe environment. These are skills that will last well beyond a single day, more like their lifetime!

4. A coupon for an outing: Parents can let their child choose their own adventure, whether it be an outing to their favorite playground with a picnic lunch or a trip to the movies and a beloved homemade dinner. This one-on-one time is a unique gift for both the child and the gift-giver.

Experiences like child-centered programs, memberships at local attractions, or monthly subscriptions to kid-friendly magazines, books, crafts, or science activities are all great choices for experiential gifts! Remember, it’s the thoughtfulness behind the experience and the time spent together that really counts.