Experience Gifts in the Kansas City Area

With the holidays approaching, the subject of Christmas is coming up in conversation. And in my circle of moms, it’s not always a joyous topic. “My kids don’t even play with the toys they already have.” “I’m already dreading the new things. More plastic clutter.” “Where do the grandparents think we can put all this stuff?”

Not only are toys adding to clutter, they’re often adding to family debt. How do you make kids happy without crowding the house or breaking the bank?

Memories last longer than whatever is the must-have toy on the shelf this year. And they don’t require batteries or generate small pieces that hide in your carpet. So, if you’re buying or suggesting presents for kids this year, consider gifts of experiences to fill their memory banks and not their toy boxes.

The following ideas would be $60 or less for two kids or a family of four.

Outdoor activities
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead 
I’ve paired a cowboy hat with a gift card, so the kids are ready for the farm! (you could even snag an annual family membership for less than $60!)

Kansas City Zoo tickets 
Getting the annual membership is a better deal, but individual tickets work for a day of fun under the $60 mark.

Blue Crew membership 
Order soon to get the box of goodies in time for the holidays; it includes a jersey, hat and Royals tickets.

Indoor activities
Trampoline/inflatable parks
Let those little ones (and big ones) get their wiggles out. For Sky Zone, you could pair a pair of their signature socks with a gift card. Above All Trampoline ParkUrban Air, Monkey Bizness, Pump It Up, Giggles-N-Jiggles and Cool Crest are other options around KC.

Those cold days are coming up and hours of creative discovery would be very appreciated.

We Rock the Spectrum
An inclusive play area for all kids offers open play times and classes.

Movie tickets
Netflix is the norm at our house, so the real movie theater experience is thrilling for my kids!

Creative activities
Painting ceramics
At Paint, Glaze & Fire, in addition to open time, they have all kinds of events like a themed story and painting time for preschoolers, kids’ nights out with pizza and crafts, and family fun nights.

Art class
Blanc Palette’s Books & Brushes classes combine story time with art time (and parents get free coffee!).

Cooking class
Check out the Young Chef’s Academy or the The Culinary Center of KC for age-appropriate culinary classes from preschool on up. (these can be pricier depending on the class)

Experience gifts don’t have to cost much, especially if your goal is quality time with the child. Instead of a gift card, take the kid or the whole family out for an adventure and enjoy the time together without breaking the bank. Take a family of four for less than $20.

  • Picnic on the Nelson-Atkins lawn
  • Swimming at a community center or local pool – pack extra fun snacks to make it a pool party
  • Ride together on the street car downtown
  • Kaleidoscope at Crown Center
  • DIY spa day at home – paint nails, cucumber eyes, soft music, bliss
  • Fries and ice cream at Fritz’s while you watch the trains

There are some bigger ticket items for major events, pricier memberships, or recurring classes that take the experiences a step further. Grandparents are always asking for ideas for gifts, so you could suggest one of these for valuable memories and no toys in the basement:

Think outside the toy box for some great family experiences this year!

Wife of 12 years to Brett, and a laid-back SAHM with a crew of three girls (7, 4, 2) and a boy (newborn) through birth and adoption. A Kansas girl from the start, she grew up in Lawrence, went to SBU, then taught everything from pre-K to high school. After nine years in Austin, she's back in the KC area balancing introvert tendencies and active children. Her happy place is in the kitchen, trying new recipes and experimenting with old favorites. When not hugging her minivan or slow cooker, she's pursuing eating well and dressing well – on a budget! She talks food, family, and fun on her blog Life on Olive Street.


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