Many parents spend weeks or even months before big holidays trying to come up with a perfect gift for their toddlers. While you know they probably have too many toys already, you also know how happy they are when they get one, so you just can’t resist.
But new toys are only new for a day or two. Then they stop seeming so exciting and get forgotten altogether. Besides, they create unnecessary waste and clutter.
So next time, consider an experience gift. Instead of getting a new toy, plan a fun activity for your whole family. Not only will it be a great bonding time, but it can also create memories that will stay with you forever. And even if it doesn’t go as planned - you bet that’s the one you’ll be laughing the most about in 20 years!
Here are some suggestions for a fun experience gift every toddler will appreciate.
Sponsor an Animal
Toddlers love animals. Although they would be happy with another stuffed bear, get creative with it! There are many ways you can help real animals. One is through your local zoo or animal shelter. The zoos in the bigger cities may offer an animal sponsorship program with all kinds of perks such as having your name written on the animal’s card or an annual membership for your family. Then you can go visit the animal together, see how it’s doing, and discuss how you are helping it.
Although animal shelters don’t do sponsorships very often, they sure would appreciate a donation. You can make the donation on behalf of your child and tell them about it in a special way. Maybe you can get a personal letter from the animal shelter or even come up with a fairytale about a puppy, who was saved by a kind little boy. Let your imagination fly!
If you’re not a creative kind, but would still love to get a meaningful gift for your baby, consider WWF adoptions. You can choose out of hundreds of species and get the adoption plan that works best for your budget. Some adoption kits come with a plush animal, but you can always opt out of it if you’d like.
Many older kids may get shy before doing a photo shoot, but toddlers get easily excited over little things. Capture this sweet time before it’s over! Instead of getting a new dress for your little girl, help her put on her favorite outfit, and capture the joy she gets from wearing it. Photoshoots can be just as fun for boys too! Ask them to show their favorite toys, take a video of them dancing, or playing with their best friends.
A good children’s photographer knows how to make a child feel comfortable and enjoy taking pictures. But if you can’t afford a professional photoshoot, that’s okay too. You can do it yourself or ask a family friend. Any photoshoot is a bullet-proof scenario for a fun family day with a guarantee that the memories of it will put a smile on your face for many years to come.
Family Memberships to Attractions
Think about how much fun your child had on your last visit to the children’s museum. There’s no need for it to be a one-time occurrence. Your local children’s museum, zoo, or aquarium probably offers year-round family memberships. It’s a great way to make the visits your little family tradition. When you know you will come back soon, you don’t have to rush to see everything. Besides, a membership might include some bonuses, such as free parking and members-only events.
Such membership can be a wonderful gift from a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. You can pick a day and go visit every month with your beloved grandchild, niece or nephew with a follow-up chat at the ice-cream place across the road. This way, you can strengthen your bond and schedule some time off for their parents too. Win-win situation!
An Art Night
While it can’t be said about adults, every kid loves arts. Painting with fingers, making sculptures out of playdough - pick the one your kid loves the most. It can be a family night when you make some DIY playdough and play with it together, or a little drawing playdate with some friends. Let the kids plan it themselves!
It doesn’t have to be just one night either. Signing up for a Mommy and Me class can be a great gift for you and your kid, that will help you create many fun memories together.
A Treasure Hunt
Who doesn’t love a good old Easter egg hunt? The kids love looking for eggs and every little thing they find by themselves makes them so much happier than if you just handed it to them. So why not do something similar on a birthday or some other special occasion?
There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for a fun treasure hunt. You can do it inside your apartment or in the yard, with the whole family, or just as a parent-child activity. Either way, having to look for a gift makes it ten times more exciting, even for adults!
Little Helper’s Kit
In a child’s eyes, every mundane household activity looks like a fun game for grown-ups. So why not make it a game? Every child loves acting like an adult and it’s never too early to learn the importance of helping each other, even a little bit.
Getting a kid-sized apron for a little girl or a broom toy for a boy can be a great way to make the child feel included in the grown-up world. Let the child help you clean their room or bake a cake together. With little helpers, these activities will be much more fun for you too. The results might not be perfect, but that’s not the most important part, is it?
This one might be a little obvious, but all the best things in life are clichés. And while a train-ride to a town near-by might not sound too exciting to an adult, for a toddler it is a real adventure!
Of course, Disneyland is great, but it’s the little things the baby will love the most. Packing up a bag, making snacks for the trip, and riding a train - maybe for the first time ever! - is what the child will remember for a long time. So don’t stress yourself over planning every minute. Relax, have fun, and improvise on the go.