Give The Gift Of Experience

gift of experience.mainWant to give your kiddo something they’ll fondly remember forever? This holiday, go light on toys – opt for ones that’ll improve their skills and mood – and heavier on adventures. The novelty of stuffed animals and games is short-lived whereas fun experiences get etched in your sweetie’s memory. Think about the things your child goes crazy for, be it music, movement or movies, and plan epic outings around them. Here are some awesome experiential gift ideas.

For the music devotee: If Tommy is Mozart-in-the-making or simply loves Taylor Swift, treat him to the gift of music. Sign him up for lessons so he can learn to sing or play an instrument, or take him to a concert. Are crowds too much for Tommy? Skip the arena and plan a small karaoke party at home, bellowing out all his favourite songs.

For the animal enthusiast: Tiger figurines are cool, but real tigers are way cooler. So spend the day at the zoo with your animal-lover, visiting their most-adored critters. If Samantha is more into dinosaurs, take her to see them at a place like the Royal Ontario Museum. For a more touchy-feely experience, consider therapeutic horse-riding or hiring a company, such as Zoo To You, to bring animals and/or reptiles to your home.

For the up-and-coming artist: Your mini Picasso might like making pottery. Working the clay helps with fine motor skills and, from a sensory perspective, it feels good. Many studios, such as the one at the Gardiner Museum, offer drop-in sessions that you can attend together as well as kid-only classes. Another idea is to create a big art project at home: Paint a mural on a wall in the playroom or on a large canvas to hang in the living room.

For the water babe: Want to treat your little fish to a whale of a good time? Spend the day at an indoor waterpark like Great Wolf Lodge. For a closer to home adventure, grab their flippers and aqua toys and splash away at a nearby indoor community pool, or commit to weekly swimming lessons. Or stay dry and watch fish elegantly navigate the waters at an aquarium like Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

For the film buff: Plan a theatre date with Peter, so he can see the child-friendly flick of his choice on the big screen. Don’t forget the popcorn! Keep in mind that Cineplex offers sensory-friendly screenings for kiddos that find regular shows too loud and overwhelming. It would also be fun to make a home movie that Peter directs, shoots and/or stars in. Plot the story together, dress up in your costumes, and then capture the video on your camera or iPad (most have a built-in app). When it’s ready, invite friends and family over for the premier!

For the action figure: If your Hulk or Supergirl likes to be on the move, schedule some action-packed mornings or afternoons. Not much beats sledding down a sweet hill followed by hot chocolate and cookies. Jumping around at an indoor trampoline park is also super fun, as are ski lessons with an organization, such as Ontario Track 3, that teaches kids with disabilities to swoop down the slopes.

Design a cool poster with lots of pictures and exciting words, detailing what awesome things are in store for your kiddo. Roll it up, attach a bow and present it at gift exchange time. Remember: Capture your adventures on film, so you and Polly can frequently revisit your fun times. Happy Memory-Making! Happy Holidays!

Image by njaj at