Avoid the Toy Takeover: Experience Gift Ideas in Fargo

experience gift ideas

Anyone else feel like toys are taking over your home? So much so that the very thought of the annual holiday influx of toys makes you cringe? If so, this could be the year to try giving experiences rather than toys. 

Gifting Memorable Experiences

Last year for the holidays, we made the conscious decision to focus on non-toy gifts for our children. We chose instead to focus on making memories together.

Growing up, one of my fondest holiday memories was the year my mom and aunt took me to see a performance of the Nutcracker. As a little ballerina-want-to-be, the experience was something that I talked about for weeks. That Christmas Eve, I unwrapped a little nutcracker ornament. It was so special to me that even now that I am an adult, it gets displayed in my home around the holidays.

I wanted to give that same memory-making experience to my children.

Last year, we chose to take our 4-year-old twins to their first “performance” and got tickets as a family to PJ Masks Live. The kids still talk about it when we drive pass the arena, almost a year later. As they danced in their seats and watched their beloved characters on stage, I realized this gift outshone any toy we could have had given them.

There are so many experience gift ideas you can give your family locally!

Experience Gift Ideas

  1. Go Wild: I can’t recommend this one enough: purchase a family membership to the Red River Zoo. This gift keeps giving year-round; providing you with something fun to do to get out of the house. This membership includes early access to the zoo if you want to go and avoid the crowds. Plus, when you do feel like traveling again, there’s reciprocity at 150+ zoos and aquariums. 
  2. Get Swimming: If your kiddo is a little fish in the summer, then encourage gifts that continue the fun in the winter. There are plenty of places in our area that are offering indoor swimming lessons in the colder months. For something other than lessons, the Hulbert Aquatic Center typically offers inflatable swim events in the winter months. Just watch their website for updates and scheduled events. Otherwise, a staycation at an area hotel with a pool might be just the thing. 
  3. Get Artistic: Encourage creativity by gifting your artist with an art program or kit. The Plains Art Museum,  Fargo Park District and West Fargo Park District all offer a variety of offerings for different ages in a variety of mediums. Looking for something you can do together? Clay Your Way, The Art Bar or Gallery On The Go all have single day experiences with the opportunity to create a new masterpiece.
  4. Learn Something New: Kids are notorious for their ability to learn new things. Consider purchasing or contributing towards lessons that encourage a new interest: gymnastics, karate, piano, coding, skating, music…the list goes on. As parents, we love to see our children embrace these experiences. However, the costs of classes along with all the needed supplies/equipment can really add up. So this could be a great gift suggestion for other relatives to get involved in the fun of giving experiences. Summer camps and activities are also a fun way to give a gift that keeps on giving!
  5. Be Active: Purchase punch cards or family memberships and find ways to be active indoors with your masks in tow. The indoor playgrounds at places like Courts Plus Community Fitness or Rustad Rec Center can be a good solution for cabin fever over the next few months. Jumping at Sky Zone or rock climbing at Nature of the North are also excellent options for kids to get their energy out. Have a toddler? Check out all the local preschool open gyms happening around town!
  6. Get Adventurous: Do you have middle schoolers or teens in your family? Book a private nerf battle or tactical laser tag party with Tactical Action Gaming for a unique holiday experience you’ll be talking about for years. Are you a family of puzzlers? Escape Jr offers escape rooms designed with kids in mind. 

Toys can still have their place. It is fun to watch your child’s face as they open the very thing they have been talking about for weeks. I’ve just realized that, for our family, one or two toys to unwrap are enough. I’d rather give the gift of an experience that will make memories throughout the year.

For a list of other local experience gift ideas, check out out Local Holiday Gift Guide!

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Katie is a native small-town Southern Minnesota girl who has adopted Fargo as her home. She originally moved to the F-M area for college (Go Cobbers!) and loved the area so much she stayed. Katie met her husband, Jordan, in a bar where he was part of the band. Katie and Jordan married in 2011 and made South Fargo their home. Today, Katie is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Fargo Park District where she gets to combine her love of Fargo with her passion for family-focused content. Katie is a #BoyMom to fraternal twins Emmett and Eli (2015) and little brother Watson (2019). Life with the #McCormickBoys means days filled with snuggles, jokes about butts and stepping on transportation-themed toys. Outside of sharing cool stories and momming so hard, Katie runs on coffee, sarcasm and episodes of The Office. Take a peek at the crazy exploits of her rowdy kiddos on her Instagram.


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