10 best experience gifts for kids + families

When more "stuff" isn't what's on their wish list.

10 best experience gifts for kids + families

Years from now, when your little ones are all grown up (I know, I know...) what will they remember most about holidays with family? Sure, they'll probably remember a favorite toy or two, but above all else, they're going to remember the time you spent together and the experiences you shared.

We love giving (and receiving!) experience gifts, so we've curated 10 of our favorite, most memorable ideas to spark your creative gift-giving genius this holiday season.

1.  Membership to a local zoo or aquarium

Kids love animals, and zoos and aquariums are the perfect places to see them all up close! We love the idea of a yearly family membership because you can spend as much—or as little—time as you like each visit and not feel guilty about wasting the price of a full-day admission ticket.

2. Adventure experience

Has your kiddo been dying to try ziplining? Rock climbing? Adventure experiences are the perfect idea for the more daring members of the family. They're also a great way to test out an activity to see if it's something your kiddo is really into that you may want to pursue further.

3. Museum membership

Did you know there are over 35,000 museums across the United States? (You can find a directory of them, by state and type, here.) That's a lot of culture to take in, so you best get busy. Whether it's a major institution or a local children's museum, it's easy to find something the whole family will love. And be sure to ask specifically about children's programs, too.

4. Volunteer opportunity

Volunteering together as a family offers an invaluable opportunity to teach children about the world around them and begin to develop their sense of social consciousness. Even the littlest of kiddos can gain something from volunteering. To discover volunteer opportunities around you, try Volunteer Match, Network for Good, or America's Promise Alliance.

5. Farm stay

This one's a splurge, but we love it as an alternative to the standard family beach or amusement park vacation. There are tons of small working farms across the country that allow families to visit, stay, and work their farm. (Emphasis on the work part—you can't be afraid of pitching in or getting dirty while doing it!) Check out Farm Stay U.S. for some options near you.

6. Subscription box

Is your kiddo into cooking? Do you have a mini global citizen on your hands, or an arts and craft addict? Subscription activity boxes are an awesome way to foster a specific interest and encourage screen-free time together as a family. There are tons of boxes available, but Foodstirs (cooking), Little Passports (global adventure), and Kiwi Crates (science and art) are three of our faves.

7. Kidpass

This one's only a win if you live in New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Fran, or Washington DC, but we hope it will continue to expand to other locations in time. For a monthly fee, you can get credits that can be used for all types of activities—think events, sports, arts and crafts, museums, dance, and so many more. It's easy to search and book via the app, and, unlike most kids' activities, there's no commitment, so it's totally cool when your 5-year-old tells you she absolutely cannot attend ballet class ever again. Use this link to enjoy a free month trial!

8. Tickets to a play

Whether it's a big show or a local theater, going to see a play or a musical as a family is an experience your little ones will always remember. (We also love this for a special outing with the grandparents, too.) Lots of local theaters do dedicated children's programming. too, so be sure to check those out.

9. Train ride

Yup, you read that right. A ride on a train is cheap, works for almost any age, and pretty much every kid we've ever met is fascinated by them. (Especially among the toddler/preschool set.) Whether it's a day trip through a scenic area, or something as simple as hopping on your local commuter line and going two stops over to a neighboring town for an ice cream, we love this idea for a fun and affordable experience gift.

10. Staycation

What's more fun that a night at a hotel when you're a kid? Booking a night at a hotel—with a pool, of course!—is a fun, easy way to shake up your regular routine and get in some unconventional family time. Order some room service, watch a movie, and make a night of it! Gift from a larger chain, like Hilton, Marriott or Wyndham so they can use it for a variety of locations.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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