The problem I’ve found with toys is that toddlers have such a short attention span, and grow so fast that they lose interest in toys quickly!  They’re often played with for a month or two (and some only get a week or two of play!), before they’re discarded and forgotten.  I’d love to give the gift of experience to kids when they get to an age where they can appreciate it because products are so easily forgotten, but experiences and how we feel about them always remain.

1.  A zoo membership – we have several zoos around here – the LA County Zoo, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and Santa Ana Zoo.  My kids love going to the zoo, and interacting with the animals.

2.  A children’s museum membership – we have two popular ones around here, Pretend City and Discovery Science Center.  This would be a great, educational gift!

3.  Theme parks – local to us are Legoland, Sea World, Disneyland, California Adventure, and Knott’s Berry Farm. A pass to one of these places would make a fantastic gift, but you’d have to make sure the parents would be willing to pay for their own passes in order to actually go. Theme parks don’t usually come cheap.

4.  A magazine subscription – National Geographic Little Kids would be a great gift at only $15/year (6 issues).  It’s for ages 3-6, but they also have National Geographic Kids, for kids aged 6-14.  Highlights would be another good one I’d consider if I wanted to gift a magazine subscription.

5.  Funding a 529 account – Helping to fund a child’s 529 account would be a great way to support a child’s future education.

6.  Lessons (dance, music, gymnastics, sports, swimming, music) – If I was really close to someone, and know they’re thinking about enrolling their kid somewhere, I’d consider secretly purchasing their lessons for them as a gift!

7.  Tickets to an event – If you search on Ticketmaster under “Children’s Music and Theater” you might find some interesting, child-centered shows in your area.  I’d love to take my kids to Disney on Ice one day!  A sporting event like baseball, basketball, or hockey would be fun too.  I also like to go on Groupon, filter for “events & activities > kids activities” to come up with ideas that would be fun for the kids.

8.  Movie passes – Disney/Pixar is really hitting it out of the park with the movies they come up with these days.  When I took Noelle to the movies for the first time, she was so in awe at the whole experience.  She loved the plush seating, big screen, and her very own bag of popcorn!

What non-toy gift ideas would you give?