The Ultimate Family Experience Gifts – The No-Clutter Gift of Together Time

Woman and girl on an amusement park ride with thumbs up. Text: "Family Fun Twin Cities. Give the Gift of Family Fun! Experience gifts for the whole family.

I love the trend of experience gifts over more plastic toys. So I have been collecting up ideas for clutter-free gifts of adventure in our own Twin Cities. These are all fun activities we can do without leaving Minnesota.

Lucky for gift givers, November and December are the best time to think about memberships, because several places offer pre-holiday or end-of-the-year discounts.

Hello Grandparents: An Experience Gift is the New “I Love You!”

Why should you consider an experience gift if  you are an out-of-town grandparent?  Here are some ways we have found that make them ideal.

  • It is not just a toy that will be forgotten in the pile of of toys.
  • Your grandchildren will look forward to your visits so you can enjoy your gift together; plus they will enjoy it with their parents the rest of the year.
  • Furthermore, your children will tell all their friends that you are so much cooler than the grandparents who bought loud, battery-powered, plastic toys that end up in the garbage heap we call a toy box. Trust me on this.
Reed Sigmund and Company in Children's Theatre Company's 2023 production of 'Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography
Reed Sigmund and Company in Children’s Theatre Company’s 2023 production of ‘Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography

Experience Gifts for the Whole Family

We’ve found our favorite local experience gifts below.  And we have organized them into theme gift packages, but you can mix and match these ideas to fit your family’s interests and your budget. Some of the bonus ideas are free while others are perfect splurges.

We have listed the approximate price, and at first, some ideas may seem a little expensive. We have learned from that the average parent spends almost $500/child and the average grandparent spends over $200/grandchild. With the exception of the teen package, which is just for the one child, we’ve put together packages for the entire family that all come in at less than $500.

Also, families that qualify for any government assistance programs (including WIC & MA) may be eligible for additional discounts.

If you are looking for something to unwrap with your experience gifts, we’ve created a list of our favorite guidebooks to the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. These are always fun to look at while planning family time.

Season Pass SPLURGE: Valleyfair

valleyfair gold card

Valleyfair is something all my kids love.  And while they have to wait for the warmer months, the absolutely adore this excursion.  There are some amazing park pass options on sale right now.  Keep in mind these passes are for individuals, not families, but you could get 3 Gold Passes and STILL be less expensive than:

  • A Nintendo Switch
  • An Oculus Quest 2
  • A Pony
  • An Apple Watch or IPhone
  • A Television

Gold Pass which comes with a lot of great perks like:

  • unlimited visits all year to the park, special events, and water park, with no blackout dates
  • free parking
  • 2 Free Pre-K Passes for 3-5 year olds
  • Pass Perks
  • Discounts
  • AND it pays for itself in only TWO visits! It is only $95 plus taxes/fees.

Silver Pass which comes with similar great perks, but with blackout dates of Saturday and right now is only $79 plus taxes/fees.

We also have Good Any Time Tickets so you can also purchase individual tickets now for the 2024 season.

Gift Package #1: Experience Year-Round Art

Girl creating art at a Free Second Saturday event at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Community Artmaking Activities at Mia

We parents love letting our kids be creative, we just don’t love paint in our carpet, marker on the walls and glitter EVERYWHERE. This is our plan for exposing our kids to art and giving them the chance to be creative, but keeping the mess somewhere else.

1. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Start with a membership to the MIA. Why? Because you pay what you feel you can. If you you feel you can’t pay anything, you can still be a member. We visit the MIA often, and I am constantly in awe at the size and scope of this museum. We can come back over and over and not be bored. Sometimes, with the smaller kids, we don’t get past the “block room”, and we love that, too. Besides exhibiting some of the best art ever created, the MIA offers classes and public programs to encourage creativity in children. Parents can even take a Master Class if they are interested.

Family Membership Price: FREE or more.
Membership Perks: NEW points and rewards program, ticketing privileges, and discounts at the café — even just for coffee. Plus communications, invitations, a personal My Mia online account, and more.
How to Become a Member: Sign up at the help desk when you get to the museum or order online. (Do this before you stop for coffee, because your membership gets you discounts.)

2. Walker Art Center

Next, add a family membership to The Walker. Honestly, the best family-friendly parts of Walker are already free on First Saturdays, but with a Walker membership, you always have a place to take out-of-town guests; and the films that they show are a nice alternative to going to a movie for a date night.

Family Membership Price: $95.00 (look for discount offers in December)
Membership Perks: Free gallery admission for two adults (children are already FREE). Walker Cinema discounts and free offers, special invitation, discounted guest admission.
How to Become a Member: Membership can be purchased online HERE or in person at The Walker.

3.  Art Studio Membership / Art Class

Finally, you need a place to drop in to make art. A Crayola Experience membership is a really simple way to have access to art supplies. Annual passes start at $37.99/person ($151.96 for a family of 4) and allow families to drop in to make art anytime the mall is open.
Family Membership Price: $151.96
Membership Perks: Unlimited admission to all Crayola Experience locations for 1 year and discounts on purchases.
How to Become a Member: You can purchase at the front desk but go online because there are often extra discounts online.

Alternative: If you would like to get more local and more creative, any of the studios in our Arts and Crafts for Kids Around Town article would be great additions to this gift. Most offer drop in arts and crafts programs and most offer gift certificates. Gift certificates are hard to quantify, but $120 would allow for one drop-in visit per month at most of these places. What you will love about these visits is the passionate staff who will encourage creativity. Many of them also sell art kits that you can take home.

TOTAL PRICE FOR A YEARS WORTH OF ART = $246.96 (more or less)

Gift Package #2: Great Experience Gifts for Builders and Innovators

Toddler playing a large harp at The Works Museum in Bloomington Minnesota
Pre-K Mondays – Inspiring the next generation of innovators, engineers, and creative problem-solvers

As with art, parents want to encourage innovation, we just don’t want to step on tiny LEGOs at 3 am. With this gift package, you can encourage the need to build while reducing the number of tiny plastic building pieces strewn all over the house. Here is our idea:

1. The Works Museum

This engineering museum in Bloomington that hopes to inspire kids to be innovators and problem solvers. They offer all sorts of hands-on exhibits and annual events to inspire the creator in your child. Family

Family Membership Price: $90 for up to two adults and their children or $125 for Family Plus.
Membership Perks: All memberships are tax-deductible. Enjoy unlimited visits all year. The savings over one-day admissions add up quickly. Take 10% off on purchases in the Gift Shop. Receive $25 off birthday parties. Discounted admission to special events. With the Family Plus membership: Visit over 250 participating science centers across the country and around the world for free or discounted admission through the ASTC Passport Program.
How to Become a MemberOnline, mail or phone.

2. Leonardo’s Basement Gift Certificates

Created to help children learn personal skills and attributes through open-ended project-based learning, Leonardo’s Basement offers classes year round, bi-weekly Adventure Playground times and Design and Build Days.

Price: Gift Certificates start at $25. Workshops start at $20, so a $100 Gift Certificate could offer several days of fun.
How to PurchaseFind Gift Certificates Here and Register for Workshops and Adventure Playground Times Here.

TOTAL PRICE FOR A YEARS WORTH OF INNOVATIVE BUILDING FUN = $180.00. This leaves a little something leftover to purchase some LEGO torture devices, if that’s your thing.

Gift Package #3: Best Experiences for A Rock-n-Roll Family

Family experimenting with the Theremin at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bakken’s Theremin is a Musician Favorite

As a musician, my husband’s two favorite museums are The Bakken and Pavek Museum. Both have an Earl Bakken tie, and while we think of medical innovation when we think of Bakken, he was passionate about electrical and radio sciences, both of which are useful things to understand if you love creating modern music.

1. The Bakken Museum

A membership to the The Bakken will introduce the family to electrical sciences. The museum is housed in a historic South Minneapolis mansion and features unique collections encouraging scientific exploration. Musical families will have fun playing with the Theremin on display.

Family Membership Price: Household: $80/year.
Membership Perks: Free admission all year, including the popular Discovery Days, gift shop discounts, special member offers and discounted tickets to other museums.
How to Become a Member: Sign up Online.

2. Pavek Museum

This museum houses over 12,000 square feet of antique radios, televisions, and broadcast equipment. Anyone who has worked with modern P.A. Systems will find this collection fascinating.

Family Membership Price: Become a Group Sponsor for $75.
Membership Perks: Free admission and three guest passes, plus 10% off all gift shop purchases and early notification of classes, seminars, and special events.
How to Become a Member: Sign up Online.

3. Lessons

Finally, you need some lessons. You could choose among the listings in our Guide to Family Music Classes.

TOTAL PRICE: $145 + cost of music lessons.

Gift Package #4: Best Experience Gifts for the Pre-K Family

Got Toddlers or Preschoolers? We think the best memberships with the little ones focus on play and exploration. These are among some of the higher-priced memberships, but even one of these three ideas would keep your preschooler amused for a year. We recommend these young family favorites:

Boy cheering after being the first kid to ever go down The Scramble at Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota
The first kid to ever go down The Scramble! And on his BIRTHDAY!

1. Minnesota Children’s Museum

MCM sparks imagination through play. It has two locations included in membership – downtown St Paul and Rochester, Minnesota. Qualifying families can take advantage of need-based memberships.
Family Membership Price: $155
Membership Perks: Unlimited admission for 12 months for two adults named on the membership and all children under age 18 residing in a single household. $2 off admission for up to six guests per visit. Discounts on programs, seasonal events.
How to Become a Member: Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum website.  They also offer gift cards for a more budget friendly gift of family fun.

2. Minnesota Zoo

Every young family I know who has had a membership to the Minnesota Zoo has loved it. In the winter, you have the tropical indoor exhibits to explore, Farm babies in the spring, acres of exotic animals all summer long and zoo boo in the fall.
Family Membership Price: $155.
Membership Perks: Free Zoo admission and free parking during regular Zoo hours, plus special member events. Discounts to zoos across the country. Guest discounts. Discount on classes, camps, and overnights for named members. Discounts at Zoo store. Advance sale of a limited number of “Music in the Zoo” concert tickets.
How to Become a Member: You can purchase your membership online HERE.

3. Minnesota Transportation Museum

We affectionately refer to this as “The Train Museum,” and love it for letting the kids explore. I can grab a cup of coffee and find a strategic place to sit and remind them not to run, but otherwise, they spend their time going from train to train playing some elaborate make believe game. The museum set up just lends itself well to that type of play. For the smaller kids, there is a toy train area. The downside of this membership is the limited hours and it is the same thing every visit so older kids get bored after several visits. We recommend this membership most for young families with two or fewer children and, rather than purchasing the family membership, purchase 2 Supporting memberships.
Family Membership Price: Supporting (Dual): $40; Contributing (Family): $100.
Membership Perks: Free admission. Contributing or Sustaining Memberships also receives 2 or 4 coach ride passes for Osceola & St. Croix line.
How to Become a Member: You can purchase your membership online or at the museum.


Bonus Pre-K Experience Gift Idea: Many of these Indoor Playgrounds offer Memberships

Gift Package #5: The Brand New Baby Family

baby on a blanket with stuffed animals
Experience gifts for parents of babies

Babies are sweet and it is so fun to buy them stuff, but they’ll be done with it before next Christmas. You could choose to offer mom and dad the gift of sanity instead. See our Ultimate Baby Guide for more ideas.

1. Do Good Diapers

Start with a Do Good Diapers package. This locally owned diaper service offers both a cloth service (the kind where you don’t have to wash your own diapers) or delivery of and composting of compostable diapers.
Prices: Perhaps the 52-week package for $1249.00 is a bit out of reach, but 13 weeks for $349 would be a blessing to new parents.
Where to Buy: Check out all the packages here.

2. Amma Parenting Classes

This is a way new parents can learn a little, get support and connect with other parents.
Prices: Amma New Parent Class for $185+.

3. Freezer Meals

Finally, a few Mostly-Made Lasagna, Shepherds Pie or Enchilada Filling boxes give mom and dad easy meals ready to go. Created by a local mom, we tested out these recipes and loved them. One of the best things about them is the compact size of the boxes. Event the smallest freezer can hold several. Find our Skillet Pasta from the Lasagna Filling Recipe Here and a Burrito Bowls from the Enchilada Filling Here.

Prices: $9.99/meal.
Where to Buy: find local grocery stores here.


Gift Package #6: Experience Gifts for Older Teens (16+)

Teenager in front of a laptop with earbuds in.
Get them off the computer with these experience gifts

Teens can be expensive to entertain and harder to pin down as a group. I’ve tried to keep the options down in price and things the recipient can easily access by public transit, because they’ll want a little more freedom to sometimes do these things on their own. Note that these are individual, not family prices, although the Film Society does offer a family membership. You may also want to use these ideas as a place to bounce from. I know my teen would prefer a swim membership of some sort over a ski membership.

1. Metro Transit Stored Ride Pass

First load up a Go To Card. You can go as low as $5.00 (2 rides), but I’m going to add on a nice even $50.00 (20 rides). If your teen is lucky enough to attend a school that participates in the Student Pass program, than you could take advantage of that for unlimited rides at a discount.

2. Cheap Movie Tickets All Year

The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul brings independent and international films to the Twin Cities and hosts the annual Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Members receive discounts on tickets year round, discounts to the film festival and FREE screening offers throughout the year. Movies range from comedy, adventure, romance to horror. Pretty much any entertainment genre your teen loves.

Student Membership Price: $20/annual student membership. $130/annual family membership.
Membership Perks: Up to 45% off tickets to year-round screenings, special series, film society merchandise, and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Invitations to Members-only free screenings. Discounts on tickets to partner events and screenings year-round. Advance-purchase period for tickets to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.
How to Become a Member: Student Membership must be purchased in person, or by calling 612.331.7563 or emailing If you decide to go the Family Membership route, you are not limited to bringing your own children, so you can bring your teen and several friends – then sit somewhere else. Purchase a membership online.

Alternative: Give a Gift Certificate to one of another Twin Cities Movies Theater

3. Summer: Como Town Amusement Park

Como town is the seasonal amusement park located adjacent to Como Zoo. If carnival-type roller coaster rides is your family’s thing, season passes may be the perfect gift.

Season Pass Prices: 2022 Regular Season Pass – $82.95 (this is individual, not family).
Membership Perks: Each Season Pass includes unlimited zipline rides.
How to Become a Member: You can purchase your membership online or by calling 651.487.2121 ext. 106.

4. Winter: Cross-Country Ski Pass

All cross-country skiers on ski trails in State Parks or Forests, or on State or Grant-in-Aid Trails, who are aged 16 and above must have a Minnesota Ski Pass.

Pass Price: One-season ski pass: $25. Minneapolis Parks ($50-$90 aged 12+) and Three Rivers Parks ($90/skier).
Pass Perks: Once you have your Minnesota Ski Pass, you can ski on any trail on the 135 ski pass trails in Minnesota, including 20 in the Metro area. Or buy a pass for Minneapolis or Three Rivers Parks.
How to Purchase your Pass: Passes are easy to purchase. You can purchase in person at parks, electronic licensing stations and at the DNR License Center. You can also purchase online or by phone. Details can be found HERE. Duplicate passes are available via any of the above purchasing methods. Duplicate passes are $2.50. (This does require them to have their own skis.)

A YEAR OF INDEPENDENT FUN FOR YOUR OLDER TEEN = $177.95. That leaves you a bit extra to throw in some iTunes or a set of skis.

Bonus Teen Experience Gift Idea: Escape Room Tickets

Gift Package #7: Fun in the Parks – A Great Gift for the Outdoor Family

Playground before the fossil dig at Hill Annex Mine State Park, Minnesota
Hill Annex Mine State Park

1. Wood Lake Nature Center

At first glance, the Friends of Wood Lake Nature Center Membership seems like it would be best for those living in Richfield or near enough to visit often as the main benefit is free admission to weekend programs and a few seasonal events. However, what makes it a great deal for anyone in the metro is that members can borrow skis and snowshoes for free to ski Wood Lake’s free trails. For a family who likes to cross country ski but may only get out once or twice a year, this is the best deal I’ve found in the Twin Cities.

Family Membership Price: A basic family membership is $50/year and includes 2 named adults residing at the same address and their dependent children or grandchildren under age 18.
Membership Perks: Besides the free skiing and snowshoeing, enjoy Saturday and Sunday events at no charge. Special seasonal events throughout the year are also free or discounted for members.
How to Purchase a Membership: Sign up for memberships here.

2. Minnesota State Parks

Don’t let a vehicle permit keep you from exploring the 76 State Parks in Minnesota. Daily vehicle passes are $7.00. That would add up to $532.00 to visit each park once. It only takes 5 visits to earn back the cost of an annual pass. This is a good pass to combine with camping trips, the Minnesota Historical Society Membership, and/or the Great Minnesota Ski Pass.

Pass Price: Annual Pass: $35.00 (There are discounts for disabled veterans and active duty personnel.)
Membership Perks: A year-round permit provides unlimited access to all 76 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase. By purchasing a permit, you help maintain and improve the natural resources, facilities, and education and outreach programs that make Minnesota’s state parks among the best in the nation. (This isn’t just a brag. I’ve been to other states’ parks, Minnesota State Parks are amazing in comparison.)
How to Purchase a Pass: The online option is probably the best way to purchase a vehicle permit as a gift. If you want to toss in a State Park gift card, you’ll find it on the same page.

3. County Parks

Two Twin Cities counties require vehicle permits to enter their parks: Anoka and Washington (Carver County dropped its fees in 2019). However, they are reciprocal, so you only have to buy one and you can visit both park systems. (Your State Park pass is NOT reciprocal.) A daily permit is $6 in Anoka County and $7 in Washington County. Five visits in a year will pay for an annual pass. Also, note that increases usually happen at the new year, so you may be getting a better price this month than you will in January.

Annual Pass Price: $30 for Anoka & Washington. There are discounts for disabled veterans and active duty personnel.
Membership Perks: A year-round permit provides unlimited access to all the county parks both counties.
How to Purchase a Pass: Purchase an annual pass at the park office the first time you visit a park or click the links above to order online.

Note: Unless you plan to travel, you do not need National Park Passes to visit Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa National Parks. If you do plan to travel, we share National Park Pass information here: Meet the 6 National Parks of Minnesota.

A YEAR OF HASSLE-FREE PARK FUN = $115. For this price, you can combine it with the next package.

Gift Package #8: Best Gifts for Minnesota History Buffs

Experience Gifts - The Minnesota Historical Society Membership

1. Minnesota Historical Society

This membership consists of 26 historical landmarks all over the state — six of them are right in the Twin Cities. You can get your money’s worth without leaving the Metro area or you can use it as an excuse to explore this great state.

Family Membership Price: Household: $79; Household Plus: $99. Membership Perks: Free general admission at 26 MNHS historic sites and museums in Minnesota. Free or discounted tours, family activities, pub crawls, classes, and other special events. 10% discount at all MNHS museum stores, Cafe Minnesota and Mill City Cafe, on Gale Family Library services and MNHS Press purchases. Award-winning Minnesota History magazine and app, and MNHS magazine to keep you updated about upcoming events. Exhibit previews and members-only events. Discount on Minnesota History Center parking. Time Travelers reciprocal benefits at nearly 250 historical societies nationwide. A portion of your membership is tax-deductible.
How to Become a Member: Membership can be purchased online HERE.

2. State Park Vehicle Permit

Pair this with the State Park Vehicle Permit that we described above, because many of these historical places are near State Parks. $35.00.

3. Listen to Books While You Travel the State

Not local, but adding an Audible membership allows you to listen to Minnesota History (or other) books together while traveling the State. A one-year membership is $150.00.* 


*As an Amazon associate Family Fun Twin Cities earns on qualifying purchases.

Gift Package #9: The Great Gift Variety Pack

In all honesty, I ran out of steam here and still had several really good memberships to list, but this mixed bag of memberships will keep your family entertained all year long. They would each also make great stand-alone gifts.

1. The Science Museum of Minnesota

In the past, I have considered the Science Museum to be mostly out of my budget; but I’ve discovered memberships are really quite affordable and something we use often. The Science Museum also offers needs based discounts. If you are even on WIC or Medical Assistance, you qualify for discounted prices that bring membership down to below the price of most the other museums I’ve featured. Two perks I love about the Science Museum are 1) the discounted parking. Often when I have to attend something else in the area, the rest of the family goes to the Science Museum and we take advantage of discounted parking; 2) I love the Omnitheater admission. This makes for a cheap Friday night out with the family and, if the toddler doesn’t want to sit through a show (which she doesn’t), I can take her to the museum while the rest of the family catches the show.

Family Membership Price: $149.00.
Membership Perks: Museum admission for two adults and all dependents under 21. One Omnitheater admission for all regularly scheduled films for each member each time you visit. Discounts on special exhibitions. Free advance reservations. Discounted reservation fee when buying tickets online. Discounted parking rates. 10% discount in the Explore Store. Free exhibit admission to over 350 museums around the world. Household memberships are tax deductible. Subscription to member emails. Priority registration for youth camps and classes. Discounts on youth camp, classes, and birthday parties. Discounts on Computer Education Center classes.
How to Become a Member: Memberships may be purchased online, via phone at (651) 221-9444, or at the Box Office.

2. American Swedish Institute

Located in a the old Swan Turnblad Mansion and founded in 1929, ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. Daily Admission is $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children 6 and up. So, depending on your family size, the membership will pay for itself in 3-4 visits.

Family Membership Price:  $85.00.
Membership Perks: Free admission to the Turnblad Mansion during open hours for two adults and all children ages 18 and under. 10% discount at the ASI Museum Shop and Subscription to Posten newsletter. Free or discounted admission to films, lectures, concerts, dinners, and special events. Reduced tuition for classes and workshops. Reciprocal admission privileges to eight Swedish museums in the United States and Sweden (including Gammelgarden Museum in Scandia).
How to Become a Member: Join or renew here.

3. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Arb is always free for children under the age of of 16, but the adult admission of $15 still adds up to $30 for two adults and their children. If you plan to visit once per season as a family, you’ll get your money’s worth on a dual membership. If you plan on attending story times as a parent/preschooler activity, you only need to attend 4 times to recoup a solo membership. There are additional membership levels for families with older teens or additional adults, as well as those who want to bring their dogs.
Membership Price: $60 Solo Membership; $100 Dual Membership.
Membership Perks: Free admission, reciprocal admissions to other gardens, free gardening and plant advice, discounts, EZ Pass Lane Admission, free magazine subscription.
How to Become a Member: Purchase a membership online.


Experience Gift Package #10: Sporting Event Package

1. St. Paul Saints Season Tickets

Having a team from the minor leagues in the area makes season tickets to sporting events a bit more affordable. A half-season plan starts at $490. Since that is for only one seat, I know it is still the most expensive experience gift on this list — but may be acceptable for a parent-child gift if you really love going to sporting events together. Learn more here.

2. Volunteer to Help Coach Little League This Year

This doesn’t cost anything and gives you plenty of time together during the season.

Gift Package #11: A Better Way to Give Books & Toys (Without All the Clutter)

How to Make Book & Toys into Experience Gifts
Books & Toys can be experience gifts with the right memberships

You don’t have to completely give up on the idea of books and toys when gifting experience. First of all, everyone knows that books don’t count as clutter, or at the very least, they are the BEST kind of clutter. We suggest this very affordable plan for giving books and toys without the clutter.

1. Minneapolis Toy Library

South Branch, 8 W 60th St, Minneapolis, MN 55419
Northeast Branch, 2600 Johnson St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
First, a membership to the toy library. This gets you a year’s worth of revolving toys, puzzles and games for your family and the knowledge that you are helping to reduce global toy clutter. You can drop off and pick up at either branch.

Membership Price: $40 ( or you can choose to donate more).
Membership Perks: Besides toys, they keep a selection of costumes and offer members recycling opportunities year round for things that can be hard to dispose of properly.
How to Become a Member: Show up to a lending event and sign up.

2. Red Balloon Bookshop – Subscription Boxes

Second, get monthly hand-selected books delivered to your child. Red Balloon factors in your child’s age, reading level, and interests and keeps records of prior books sent. So while it is a bit of a mystery gift, it isn’t random.

Basic Subscription Price: $18/month ($216/year).
Extra Perks: There are also packages that include goodies or t-shirts with the books.
How to Subscribe: Sign up here.


Gift Package #12: A Gift That Gives Back (With Some Clutter)

volunteering with kids at Feed My Starving Children
Vitamins, Veggies, Soy, and Rice Team

1. Book A Family Packing Day at Feed My Starving Children

You know we love the good works that Feed My Starving Children (“FMSC”) does. Participating in a food packing event is actually a lot more fun than it may seem like. Children as young as age 5 can participate with the family. It can be a really fun bonding experience for a family.

Price: FREE.
How to Sign Up: Choose a date and packing location and sign up online.

2. Let Each Family Member Choose a Gift from the Giftshop

While packing is great, it is not the only way to support FMSC’s mission. Their giftshop is stocked with handmade goods from local artisans in the communities they support with food. While this is not a completely clutter-free gift, it is at least a high-quality, artisan-made gift that should last. FMSC tells us that by purchasing these gifts “we support the livelihoods of the artisans and promote economic growth in the community. Each purchase also provides funding for the nutritious ingredients served in each FMSC meal sent to nearly 100 countries worldwide.”

Price: Your Choice. In the online store, there are stickers as low as $1.00 and a nativity set for $300 with plenty in between.  Stock in the giftshop will vary.
How to Shop: Shop FMSC Marketplace online here or shop after your packing event.

3. A Family Meal Out

You may be ready for a meal after your packing event. A planned meal at the family’s favorite restaurant could be the perfect ending to this family outing. Maybe the kids will even appreciate their food a little more.

Family-Friendly Restaurant Ideas: Kids Eat Free or Cheap Twin Cities List

More Experience Gift Ideas:

Water Parks & Swim Lessons

Many of these Twin Cities Indoor Waterparks and Pools offer membership options so your family can splash together all year. Goldfish Swim School also has Gift Packages Available.

Cooking Classes for Little Chefs with Great Taste

Peruse our list of places to get Cooking With Kids in the Twin Cities for classes making everything from dinner to cookies.


I’m sure I rolled my eyes at this a dozen years ago when my oldest daughter received a gift certificate to Build-A-Bear from her grandmother, but, as she gets ready to head off to college, that bear is still one of her favorites. I’m sure it is a toy she will pass down to her own children. More importantly, we discovered this year, that we can take the bears in to get re-stuffed when they’ve been loved real. Build-a-Bear Repair: A Spa Day for Rainbow Bear.  We have two Build-A-Bear locations in Minnesota – Rosedale and the Mall of America.

Horseback Riding

Several years ago, Gianna visited several local stables and shared her research in this Twin Cities Stables Overview: Horseback Riding Opportunities for Kids. Find a stable near you and look into lessons or just a day of riding.

Family Weekend at Great Wolf Lodge

Gianna and her family had a blast visiting the Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend: 7 Tips for Visiting Great Wolf Lodge Bloomington. Take a mini family vacation, enjoy the waterpark and just spend quality time together.

Make a Family Movie Night Basket

This is a simple and time-tested family gift. Toss in some popcorn, candy, and a coupon book for purchasing your family’s favorite movies that aren’t currently offered through your streaming services!

Museum Membership Family Experience Gifts:

The following are links to all the museum memberships we’ve mentioned, plus others that could be purchased as experience gifts:

This is NOT a sponsored article. While we have or have had financial partnerships with some of the museums and businesses offering experience gifts, this article is not part of any paid package. We simply felt these would make good gifts.

However, we do have affiliate links to matching products sprinkled throughout this article. These are NOT experience gifts, but many of these gifts could be used as “clues” to the big experience gifts.  Affiliate partner links include Audible. Purchasing through our links supports FFTC’s mission. Learn more about our affiliate sales policy here.

Related Articles:

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Family Experience Gifts – The No-Clutter Gift of Together Time”

  1. camera shutter count

    Love the idea of experience gifts! As a busy working mom, I know it can be hard to find time for family activities. This post has inspired me to make more of an effort to plan quality time with my loved ones. Thanks for sharing!

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