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Today's Family Magazine

Experience gifts can make for a great holiday present

Nov 29, 2021 04:08PM ● By Today's Family

A gift card to Lost Nation Sports Park in Willoughby is a gift that could open a whole new world to your child.

Editor's note:  This article features seven general ideas for experience gifts.  At the end, we feature 25 local businesses for you to consider buying from this holiday season, complete with phone numbers and links to websites.  Thank you for supporting local businesses!

By Sarah Lyons

Does it feel like your kids already have more toys than they could ever want?  I love the holidays and the spirit of gift giving but every year I wonder what toys my kids could possibly want and where they will go in our already crowded home?  Experience gifts are a great gift option that has benefits for kids, parents, and other gift givers.  With an experience gift, your child will create great memories while enjoying something they may not have had the opportunity to try otherwise.  An added bonus is that there is no need to store the item after the child has grown tired of playing with it.  Here are some great experience gift ideas for every child on your list.

Season pass
One of my family’s favorite gifts are seasonal family passes to local attractions.  This not only saves us money but it also encourages us to get out, enjoy our city, and make memories along the way.  Some attractions to consider are zoo admission, a local museum (consider a children’s museum if your children are of the right ages), amusement park tickets, or swimming season passes to the area pool. 

Subscription box
A subscription box is a great gift idea for those that are tweens and teens that are hard to buy for.  They are now available for any age, interest, and price range.  If your child loves science, reading, art, games, or sports; chances are there is a subscription box that will fit their interests. 

Classes and camps
Consider giving the gift of prepaid classes or camps that fit your child’s interest.  Some ideas include dance, gymnastics, sports, cooking, art, or music.  Classes and camps can be really expensive but are worth the money and give kids the opportunity to try something new.

Consider combining your holiday and vacation budget to take a family trip.  Whether it’s an overnight trip to a nearby indoor water park or a cross country trip, traveling is a great way to expose your child to different places and build family memories at the same time.

Tickets to a favorite sporting event, concert, or show is a great idea for a gift for the whole family. Combine the gift with a T-shirt to wear to the event or a backstage tour to make the day more memorable.

Box it up
If your budget is a little smaller, try putting together several things in a box for your child to enjoy.  Create a movie box with a movie or video rental gift card, candy, popcorn, and a warm blanket so the family can enjoy a movie night at home.  Combine art supplies, a sketch book, paints, and other craft items for an art box.  You could also put together a cooking box, ingredients for homemade play dough with cookie cutters, or a gardening box with seeds, gardening gloves and tools.  Get creative and combine your child’s interests to put together a customized box.

Adventure gifts
For the adventurous child, look for experience gifts that give them a chance to try something they wouldn’t normally get to do.  Some ideas could include horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing, indoor skydiving, or a day at a gym with an obstacle course or trampolines.

Many of the listings below have links to purchase memberships and gift cards. 

For the rest, we encourage you to visit the provided links to their websites to find the perfect gift, and then give them a call to learn about gift opportunities.

Adrenaline Monkey (Warrensville Heights)
Ninja courses, rock climbing walls, aerial ropes course, arcade games.
Gift Cards

Adventure Zone  (Geneva-on-the-Lake)
Open May through October
Miniature golf, batting cages, go-karts, bumper boats, rock and repelling walls, merry-go-round, arcade, zip line, more!
Gift Cards

Atlas Cinemas  
(Euclid, Mayfield Heights*, Mentor*, Shaker Heights)
Private auditorium rentals, concessions, birthday parties, arcade, *luxury seating with recliners.
Gift Cards

Beck Center for the Arts  (Lakewood)
Theatre performances, dance classes, visual arts classes, music classes.
Busy Bees Pottery & Arts Studio (Mentor)
Paint your own pottery, board art, canvas painting, clay hand building, glass fusing, candle making, mosaics, stamped jewelry.
Gift Cards
Cleveland City Dance (Shaker Square)
Ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop, conditioning classes for all ages and abilities.
Cleveland Zoological Society 
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo memberships include an entire year full of adventure and make for a lifetime of memories!
15% off discount code: FAMILYGIFT21
En Pointe Danse (Chagrin Falls)
Classes for ages 3 through adult in creative movement, ballet, tap, pointe and modern dance.
Fairmount Center for the Arts (Novelty in Geauga County)
Ceramics, painting, sewing, drawing classes, dance classes, music lessons, theatre, creative writing and more!
Fine Arts Association (Willoughby)
Providing instruction in visual arts, dance, theatre, music and creative arts therapies.
Girl Scouts of North East Ohio
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
With 2500 freshwater and saltwater animals from our own Lake Erie and across the globe, there is a lot of opportunity for serendipitous discovery.
Save 10% on an Annual Pass
Great Lakes Science Center
Exhibits, NASA Glenn Visitor center, William G Mather Steamship, summer camps, dome theater, events and classes, and more!
Jump Start Gymnastics (Beachwood)
The facility is over 14,000 square feet and is fully equipped for athletes of all ages and levels. Coaches are USAG safety certified and bring years of experience to their classes and inspiration to their coaching. Whether you're new to the sport or have been flipping your whole life, Jump Start promises a great gymnastics experience for everyone.
Holden Forests & Gardens (Kirtland and University Circle)
Holden Arboretum – Over 3,500 acres of woodlands and gardens. View from the canopy walk or emergent tower.
Cleveland Botanical Garden – Glasshouse features exotic plants/trees/shrubs and animals. Plus visit the Hershey Children’s Garden.
Lake Metroparks Farmpark (Kirtland)
Daily activities include demonstrations and educational programs related to farming and gardening. Special events occurring on a monthly basis include: Ice Festival, Maple Sugaring Weekends, Sheep Shearing Weekend, HorseFest, Fall Harvest Weekends and more.
Little Gym  (Shaker Heights)
A children's gym offering activities for kids including parent/child classes, kids dance, gymnastics, sports skills, camps, birthday parties and more.
Lost Nation Sports Park (Willoughby)
Batting cages, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, virtual golf, Zumba, The Players Club restaurant and more.  Featuring Lil Kickers Youth Development Program, Junior Hoopers Academy and summer camps.
Gift cards available.
Mandel JCC (Beachwood)
Award-winning, state-of-the-art community center, which features a beautifully renovated fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools racquetball courts, four court gymnasium and more.
Noreen Londregan School of Dance (Mayfield Village)
Offers a variety of classes beginning at age 2.  The Terrific 2s program is an intro to dance with basic rhythms, movement and song. Preschool combo classes include pre-ballet, tap and floor tumbling.  
North Coast Aikikai (Mentor)
Learning to defend oneself with Aikido techniques takes surprisingly little time. This make it a very practical for men, women and youths.
Rabbit Run Community Arts Association (Madison)
A comprehensive fine arts association offering private and group instruction in all the major disciplines of the fine and performing arts including dance, music, theatre and visual arts.  
Shaker Rocks (Shaker Heights)
14,000 sq ft of climbing surface with 200+ routes and boulder problems, fitness and training space, private party space and more.
Gift Cards
Snapology (Beachwood)
Offers children age 2 to 14 a hands-on experience to learn and create though LEGO®-themed programs, robotics, engineering, animation and more. Classes, field trips, birthday parties and camps.
Valley Art Center (Chagrin Falls)
Over 400 classes, workshops and summer camps for students, from children to seniors, who range from beginner to seasoned professional. Explore drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, photography, jewelry, metalwork, textiles, and more. Gift certificates available.