Build Memories that Last with an Experience Gift

Build Memories that Last with an Experience Gift

I remember very few gifts that I received as a kid – the My Little Pony barn (it was 🔥) and a blue flannel sleeping bag that I got instead of the Strawberry Shortcake one I wanted. That’s about it. Do you remember some of your gifts?

But I do remember going to concerts and the theater with my mom. Or baking with my grandmother. I remember driving around to see all the Christmas lights with my mom and brother. (I was not a fan at the time, but now I do that same thing! Don’t tell my mom.)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”My memories of experiences have lasted way longer than the toys ever did.” quote=”My memories of experiences have lasted way longer than the toys ever did.”]

Christmas seems to get more materialistic every year. (Is that even possible?) However, gifts don’t have to be things. The best gifts, the ones most likely to remembered, are experiences.

These gifts can be expensive (hello Hamilton tickets!) or completely free, but they help build a relationship between you and your teen. They also create cherished memories!  So, onto to the experience gift ideas…

Just a quick note – I’m writing this at Christmas time, but these gifts can be given ALL year long. They would make excellent birthday gifts as well!

Experience Christmas Gifts for Your Teen

experience gift

Experience Gifts that are FREE or Close to It

Remember those coupon books we gave our parents when we were kids? It’s time to turn that around and give that to our kids! The gift of time, people! 

Give your teen some options and let them decide how they want to spend time with you. This gives them some control over their gift AND still gives you quality time with your kiddo. Here are some ideas for an inexpensive experience gift:

  1. Take a hike, go bike riding, just get active outside
  2. Cook a meal or dessert together – this is perfect around the holidays!
  3. Help redecorate/ rearrange his or her room
  4. Help them practice something, anything
  5. Movie marathon on the couch
  6. Go for a drive! See the holiday lights or just let your driving-age kiddo practice
  7. Family game night
  8. Home spa day
  9. Get crafty together – grab the glue gun and glitter! (OK, maybe not the glitter.)
  10. Volunteer together
  11. Go through family photo albums and tell those family stories
  12. Work out together
  13. Hit up your favorite spot for ice cream, french fries, or a treat
  14. Act like tourists in your own town and see the sights
  15. Head downtown and go window shopping. This is especially fun at Christmas when the stores have incredible window displays.

Experience Gifts that Costs Some Money


Get a family membership to a local museum or park.  It could be a membership to a climbing gym or trampoline park. Maybe your kiddos love flowers and plants – grab that membership to the botanical gardens. Or how about season passes to the local amusement park? I live in Colorado, so ski passes are always a big winner here.

The advantage of a membership or pass is that it lasts all year long. It’s the experience gift that keeps on giving. Also, if you buy a family membership, you guarantee time with your teen!


My mom and I are big into musicals. Some years, tickets to a show were a Christmas or birthday gift. Often, the shows were much later in the year, so I had so much time to anticipate it! And then we had the experience together.

experience gift
I took my mom to see Hamilton this year as a gift. We were a tad excited.

If you’re really the giving type, consider tickets to see your teen’s favorite band. Yes, you may hate their music, but you will be a hero.

Is your teen into sports? Get tickets to a local game – always a hit with fans! And it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. Always check the team’s website for discounted tickets. I highly recommend attending semi-pro and farm league games – they are much less expensive but can be just as fun!


Does your teen have a passion or hobby? Purchase a class or string of classes, so they can learn more. Extra points if you participate as well.

Hey, there big spender! These experience gifts ain’t cheap.


Is there someplace that your teen has always wanted to visit? All right, you probably can’t afford Paris right now, but maybe someplace closer to home? Plan a road trip, guys weekend, or family cruise and have that be the gift. Your kids get the planning and anticipation AND the trip itself. That’s an experience gift win-win!

Investment in Hobby/ Sport

Let’s face it – your kid is into a really expensive hobby, say competitive dance or travel team sport. Their gift may be their participation in that hobby.

So, if you’re stumped about what to buy your teen this year, try to not buy them a THING, but an experience!

Related Posts: 9 Ways to Bond with your Teen over Christmas BreakChristmas Gifts that will Make your Teen a Better StudentFun (& Useful) Stocking Stuffers for the Teens in Your Life, 9 Top Christmas Movies to Watch with Your Teen

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