A Simple Moms Guide to Focusing on Experiences Over More Stuff + 50 Gift Ideas

Many of us don’t want more stuff filling our house. We want our kids to enjoy experiences over the next hot toy. I’ve created a list to help you focus on experiences over more stuff during the holidays + when celebrating special occasions in life like birthdays.

Here are my top reasons why gifting experiences is better than gifting physical items – “stuff” – to kids:

Experience Over Stuff Tip 1. A physical item like a toy will provide some enjoyment for a short amount of time. Kids’ attention spans are short and once the newness and excitement wear off from opening the gift their interest will fade and there’s a good chance that the toy gets stuffed away.

Experience Over Stuff Tip 2. They’ll talk about the experience you gifted them for months, even years to come! The great thing about experience gifts like memberships to local attractions is that it provides a rainy day activity, fun through the winter months, & memories that will fill an entire photo book.

Experience Over Stuff Tip 3. You’ll instill contentment into the kids in your life and that’s a gift in itself.

Experience Over Stuff Tip 4. You won’t waste money buying a physical item that might only provide a few hours of fun. Some of the memberships might seem pricey at first glance but when you break it down you can see that it’s a great gift idea for the whole family. For example, the Detroit Zoo is a fun day trip – a family of four will pay $68 to visit the zoo on most weekends. When you visit the zoo twice you get your money worth in your membership AND get first access to zoo event tickets.

Without further ado, here are 50 experience gift ideas to help focus on experiences over more stuff when gift-giving. This list includes memberships, gift certificate ideas, and more – plus many of these ideas are local to Michigan.

50 experience over “stuff” gift ideas:

  1. A planned group experience for the whole family at a Pretzel Rolling or Strudel Making Class in Frankenmuth
  2. Tickets to a concert
  3. Saginaw Children’s Zoo: $75 family membership
  4. Gift certificate for an art class
  5. Payment for a summer camp that is attended each year – we LOVE Camp Copneconic
  6. Tickets to a local musical
  7. Gift certificate for mini-golf + ice cream
  8. Passes to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore dune climb
  9. Tickets to an ice show
    experience over stuff
  10. Tickets to a broadway show
  11. Tickets to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets Peppa Pig, SeaLife, or LEGOland
  12. Gift certificate for “mommy and me” pedicures
  13. A “rainy day envelope” with a small gift card for lunch + favorite shopping spot
  14. Gift certificate for musical lessons at a local studio
  15. Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum: $75 basic membership for family
  16. Ferry tickets to visit Mackinac Island
  17. Dow Garden: $80 annual admission for 4 people, $100 for 5 people
  18. Gift certificate for indoor rock climbing
  19. Detroit Zoo membership: $119 family membership
  20. Henry Ford: $185 family membership
  21. Subscription to Let’s Make Art Kids Box
  22. Sponsor a child from another country – our family enjoys sponsoring & writing letters to a student at The Esther School
  23. Passes to Motown Museum
  24. Subscription to Highlights Magazine
  25. Annual subscription to Disney +
  26. A baking kit with items for an afternoon of baking with mom or dad
  27. Barnes and Nobel gift card – for the book lover in your life this is a GREAT experience gift
  28. Meditation subscription
  29. Tickets to the Frankenmuth Ariel Park
  30. Tickets to the Michigan Science Center
  31. Gift certificate for a pottery class – better yet, a gift certificate to attend a class or series of classes with a loved one
  32. Swim lessons
  33. Flower and/or herb seeds for a spring garden – add gardening supplies in there for a gift set
  34. Dance lessons
  35. Tickets to Longway Planetarium
  36. Horseback riding lessons
  37. Tickets to a sports game
  38. Tickets to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
  39. Passes to a local waterpark
  40. Open skate tickets for a local ice arena
    experience over stuff
  41. Game night bundle
  42. Family membership to the YMCA for the winter months
  43. Gift certificate for a family trip to an Escape Room
  44. Gift card to see a movie
  45. Contribution to a college fund
  46. Puzzles – made of a family photo or photo of a pet
  47. Snowshoes for the whole family
  48. Gift to ride a horse-drawn carriage in Frankenmuth
  49. Gift a pair of tickets to a floral design workshop
  50. Book a helicopter ride

I hope this inspires you to give experiences over stuff when gift-giving.
“Memories are perhaps the best gifts of all.” – Gloria Gaither