You know that feeling you get when you watch your child do something new, enjoyable, or memorable? Surely I am not the only parent, in those moments, who thinks “oh gosh please stay right here forever, I never want to forget how this feels.” Gifting our kids with experiences allows us to chase this happiness all year long, but especially so in the holiday season! When the world gets busy, we can keep things simple by investing in time with one another. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed or you need inspiration to get started, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get merry!
2022 Holidays Experience Gift Guide
Group Getaway: Vacation or Staycation
Whether it’s a road trip to visit family you haven’t seen in awhile, or a extravagant trip to somewhere far-flung, this is a gift you can dress up or down as you wish. Is your high schooler researching something in school, or interested in something specific? Find a related location and pack your bags! Maybe your 7-year-old who swims like a fish would delight in an overnight at a local hotel that has a pool.
We are lucky to have incredible cities near us that are perfect for a short visit. Take your train-loving kiddos on the Amtrak to St. Louis, or drive up to Milwaukee and experience Lake Michigan from a new vantage point! Kaitlyn’s guide to family fun in Lake Geneva has incredible advice for planning a family trip. Chicago is always an option and has enough attractions to delight every age, including some amazing immersive experiences. The best part after all, is quality time together as a family. And, of course, we have lists to get you started, including the best, kid-friendly hotels with pools and Chicago hotel deals. You can’t get this one wrong!
Get Out! Winter Fun Gift Ideas
My kids love making coupons for me as gifts on Mother’s Day and my birthday – this year, I plan to flip the script and give them coupons for fun outings for both the holiday time and the dreary months that follow. We’ve incorporated winter revelry in our advent countdowns in the past, as well. What are the things that your kids really enjoy doing that you don’t make time for during the year? It could be tickets to a concert, one-on-one time with each child throughout the colder season, or plans to take a class together. You can also incorporate some outdoor winter fun into the mix! A few ideas would be:
- Tickets to the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination: Tree Lights event is a perennial favorite. No other nature walk has dazzling lights and sounds like this one – and in 2022, the finale display will be a laser light show! The event this year will feature a one-mile walking path, with opportunities to warm up near a cozy fire and to roast marshmallows for s’mores. Tickets can be purchased online, and certain dates (especially weekend evenings) tend to sell out so don’t delay.
- Another awesome light-filled holiday experience is Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic. There’s something really magical and fresh about seeing a place you know well all dressed up for the holidays – with trees decorated by community groups, animals coming out to play, and more! Advance registration will be required this year, so check the website ahead of time.
- The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape is another option for merriment, and it runs through January 8th, 2023, so you can easily enjoy after the holidays come and go. Ring in the New Year in their fire garden while your teen snaps the perfect selfie under the illuminated Winter Cathedral display.
- Wanna get outside? You can’t go wrong with a skiing, snowboarding, sledding or ice skating excursion! (Many of these activities have lessons you and your child(ren) can take together) These would be perfect stocking stuffers in coupon form, or printed out and paired with a physical gift like a new pair of ice skates, or a new sled.
Memberships give the priceless gift of year-round fun, and are my personal favorite to suggest to family members such as grandparents. They also keep toy clutter out of your house! Bonus: you have a great excuse to use the membership and spend time together with the gift givers! Here are just a few of the many local memberships to consider for your children:
- Morton Arboretum memberships are perfect for kids who love nature and science, and overall, is just a stunning landscape to visit as a family! The Children’s Garden has so much to explore, and the Human + Nature art installation is incredible (runs through March 2023).
- You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Top Golf in the snow. I am not kidding: our family did it a couple times last winter and it was super funny and memorable. Did you know that you can get a membership? There are 2 locations nearby in Naperville and Schaumburg.
- Brookfield Zoo memberships are a staple for many animal-loving families as they allow you to visit frequently for whatever timeframe that suits you, without the pressure to see it all in one day and “get your money’s worth.” Depending on the size of your family, a membership may actually be cheaper than single admission tickets!
- If you have little kids at home, a DuPage Children’s Museum membership is a rock-solid investment. Best for kids 12 and under, but enjoyable for kids of pretty much any age, this museum is such a wonderful place to learn and explore!
Live & Learn: Cool Classes
Does your child have a new skill they might want to learn, or perhaps an area you think they might really enjoy exploring? Classes make some of the greatest gifts and can be tailored specifically to your child’s interests. Here are just a few:
- Cooking, art, drama and music classes are sure to bring big smiles to creative kiddos. If you can’t shake the feeling that you need something to gift-wrap (no judgment! this is 100% me so you’re not alone), print out a description of the class and tie it onto a fun, colorful spatula, set of paints and brushes, and so on.
- Have a budding athlete at home? Annie recently updated our kids sports classes list – there are so many to enjoy!
- How about a class experience that you can do together? Yoga classes are ideal for this!
Other Unique Experiences
And last, but not least, consider tickets to a live event with the kids this holiday season! Seeing live productions again has jumpstarted my kids’ imaginations with lots of questions about props, singing, costuming – the works! There are plenty of options to choose from here:
- Family-friendly winter theater options, from big Broadway shows, to smaller community-theater productions, are a wonderful way to make lasting memories together.
- Charlotte saw Blue Man Group with her family last year and wrote about it for us. Check out her helpful review to see if this might be a good one to take your own kids to see, especially if you have tweens and teens.
- Kidlist’s half-price tickets page is full of discounts to all kinds of kid-friendly shows and events.
Looking for indoor fun that’s easy and affordable for the cold winter months? Our indoor activities page makes it easy!
Looking for more fun things to do with the family this winter season? Check out Kidlist’s Winter Activities page for the very best inspiration.