AS PARENTS we've certainly been feeling the pull towards giving the kids experiences rather than toys that might go unused and clutter the house.
The best experience gifts for kids will expand their horizons and might even teach them a new skill, but best of all, they'll provide an enjoyable way to spend a morning or afternoon.
Whether you're finding that your children are growing out of the toy stage, or are keen to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle, experiential gifting is on the rise, for kids as well as adults.
There are lots of amazing gift experiences to give a child, whatever their interests, from driving sessions in amazing cars to animal encounters.
Experience gifts for kids can suit all budgets, too – we've seen fairytale photo shoots starting at just £10. Animal and active adventure experiences will cost anywhere from £50 to over £100.
For an experience gift for kids that keeps on giving – and teaches them life skills – consider a subscription box.
A cooking box is an activity that the kids can learn from month after month – that could end up benefiting you as a parent, down the line.
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1. Best open-ended experience gift for kids: Activity Superstore Ultimate Choice for Kids & Teens
- (AD) Activity Superstore Ultimate Choice for Kids & Teens, £38.99 at Amazon – buy here
In our current time of uncertainty – or simply because you're not totally sure what the child you're giving a gift to would love most – an open-ended experience gift is a smart choice.
This experience voucher gives kids the option of an adventurous, educational, tasty or spooky day out, with options ranging from canoeing to cliff-jumping, lollipop-making to book club subscriptions, golf to ghost tours.
There are hundreds of options to choose from to suit kids aged five-17, and the experiences are available at over 350 locations across the UK.
Vouchers purchased now are valid through January 31st, 2022.
2. Best experience gift for the car-obsessed: Activity Superstore Driving Experience Days
- (AD) Activity Superstore Driving Experience Days Gift Experience Voucher for Teenagers, £68.99 at Amazon – buy here
Suitable for kids 11 and older, this dream driving experience has been labelled the 'perfect present' and a 'great gift' by reviewers.
The experience involves a three-mile drive and a passenger ride in a supercar, next to a pro who teaches your child the basics of driving a luxury car.
Kids can choose from over 15 supercars, like the Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Audi R8, at over 15 locations around the country.
Vouchers purchased now are valid through January 31st, 2022.
3. Best experience gift for kids on a budget: Enchanted Children’s Fairy and Elf Photoshoot Experience
- Enchanted Children’s Fairy and Elf Photoshoot Experience, £10 at Red Letter Days – buy here
Want an experience gift for a child but don't want to spend a fortune on it?
This fun, themed fairy and elf photoshoot from Red Letter Days will do the trick for younger kids, who will not only be able to frolic around a woodland setting in a costume, but will also have the memory for life in a 10" x 8" print, sent to your door.
It's valid for 10 months from purchase, and can be used at a variety of locations across the UK.
4. Best animal experience gift for kids: 2 for 1 Meet The Meerkats Experience
- 2 for 1 Meet The Meerkats Experience, now £49 at Buy A Gift – buy here
Some of the best experience gifts for kids are those where they can get up close and personal with animals.
While farm animals may feel too ordinary and big cats might be a bit scary, meerkats are the ideal middle ground: exotic enough to feel like a real adventure, they're also cute enough that they shouldn't intimidate younger children (older ones like them, too).
Kids can handle and hold meerkats and learn a range of facts about them at a variety of locations around the UK with this experience from Buy A Gift.
It's valid for 10 months from the purchase date and is for two people, with a minimum age of six.
5. Best for thrill-seekers: Family iFly Vouchers
- Family iFly vouchers, now £180 at Into The Blue – buy here
A great idea for kids at a range of ages, iFly's indoor skydiving is suitable for children five and older, and gives them the opportunity to don flying suits, helmets and goggles before taking flight for up to 10 minutes in a vertical wind tunnel.
It's even fun for those watching, who get to enjoy a 360-degree view of those in flight.
This experience is available in Basingstoke, Milton Keynes and Manchester.
6. Best physical-meets-mental experience gift for kids: Kids Spy Academy for Two
- Kids Spy Academy for Two, £95 at Virgin Experience Days – buy here
Virgin Experience Days has plenty of options for kids of all ages (helpfully, you can search for experiences by age range), and this spy academy is an exhilarating choice that reviewers love.
The three-hour experience combines physical and mental dexterity, asking kids 10 and older to deactivate 'bombs', learn sniper shooting, get through a laser room without detonating the alarms and sharpening up their wilderness skills.
It takes place in Buckinghamshire and is valid for nine months from the date of purchase.
'Recently took my son and his friend and they both had an amazing time, especially enjoying the shooting.
'There was a great range of things to do and the instructors were so nice and very patient, would highly recommend this to all', writes a satisfied customer.
7. Best subscription experience gift for kids: Little Cooks Gift Plan
- Little Cooks Gift Plan, £12.99 for one month at Little Cooks – buy here
Cooking experiences for kids are very popular; a cooking subscription box lets them extend their interest and learning beyond a one-off.
Little Cooks has a slew of happy customers, and is suitable for cooks-in-training aged three and older.
Each box contains all of the dry ingredients required to bake something delicious, like carrot cake truffles or strawberry muffins, as well as recipe cards and cute baking extras, like spatulas.
This is a fun one for kids to do together with a parent or on their own.
Parents say these boxes help their child improve their reading and ability to follow instructions, in addition to teaching them the basics of baking.
We've designed Sun Selects to help you to find the best products that won't break the bank.
Need a new boy's coat? We've rounded up the best boys' coats here.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best experience gifts for kids? Then you may like our picks of the best balance bikes, too.
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