Ditch the Toys…4 Experience Gift Ideas In & Around Collin County

It’s here. The wreaths are going up, the lights are being strung, everything is plaid, and EVERY FRIDAY is now “Black Friday”. It stirs in me a complete sense of upmost JOY and a moderate level of panic attack at the same time. It’s Christmas and it’s coming for us whether we like it or not.

If your kids are like mine, they can smell the new toys on the shelf a mile away and every day something is added to their “LIST”.

 {Let me just insert something here. I remind my kids of the real meaning of Christmas as much as I possibly can. We have nativity scenes around EVERY corner, but let’s be real, they’re KIDS. You can’t tell me you didn’t get that same flutter in your heart over the Barbie Dream House in 1994…}

So as much as our kids view Christmas gifts as double the fun, all I can see is DOUBLE THE CLUTTER. Double the C-R-A-P that will get played with until the next birthday or holiday that reminds our kids that there is a new Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue vehicle out that they NEED.

In order to avoid the explosion of “THINGS” that will fill our toy bins in mere weeks, I’m working on ideas that come with less bright lights and sounds and take up a little less real estate in our home. By no means am I nixing ALL toys, because let’s be honest, it’s just plain FUN buying toys for kids and seeing the smiles on their faces!

But I AM focusing a little bit more on an “experience” rather than toys only.

Experience Gift Ideas in Dallas & Collin County

1.Memberships/Subscriptions: There are so many AMAZING places that offer family memberships in the DFW area. The Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas Zoo, Dallas World Aquarium, Heritage Farmstead Museum, Perot Museum, Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Legoland, and Crayola Experience are all great ones, just to name a few. Our family gifts us with a Dallas Arboretum membership each year and it is hands-down our favorite place to go. Just think about where you kid LOVES to go and give them the gift of time all year round. Maybe you even go just once a month. It will pay for itself and I promise your child will look forward to spending quality time with you. There are also several amazing subscription boxes that come each month that include activities and crafts like Little Passports, Kid’s Night In, and Kiwi. This will keep your little ones busy and inspire quality time on a project! It’s better than any toy and is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

2. Play Places: Again, think about where your kid LOVES to go, and give them the gift of PLAY. There are endless amazing playscapes here: Play Street Museum, Safari Run, Cheeky Monkeys, The Coop, The Play Date Co., Peppa Pig World, Jump Street, Altitude, bounce house places, trampoline parks, etc. Some of the places bundle deals; for example, Play Street is offering five visits for $50 right now. My mom did this and made five “vouchers” and put them in a little wooden bank that my son could pull out when he was ready to “cash it in!” This would be a great opportunity to pair a fun toy with this experience gift, like a stuffed Peppa Pig or a costume that goes with a theme of the play place, like a pilot costume to represent the plane theme of Play Street in Allen.

3. Hobbies/Activities: This is the perfect time to try out a new activity that your child is interested in without committing to a whole year. (Wink wink.) Gift them with two months of gymnastics, karate, horseback riding, art lessons, etc. It’ll scratch the itch for whatever endeavor they have, and if they end up loving it, then maybe you’ve found a long-term hobby! Personally, I’m giving my five-year-old four weeks of “Ninja Lessons” at Ninja Nation. Again, you can always have a wrapped gift that goes along with your theme, like some art supplies, or in my case, a ninja costume and rope ladder!

4. Think Outside the Box: The great thing about experience gifts is that you can tailor them to your child! If your kid loves books, give them a few new books and 12 vouchers (one per month) to different story times around DFW! (They are endless.) Go for a special Christmas trip to Stonebriar, ride the carousel, eat ice cream, and go to Build-A-Bear. Have a train lover? Wrap up a toy train and include tickets to all the different “train experiences” in DFW. (Think Grapevine train, the train at the Shops at Willow Bend, the Downtown Dallas Trolley, a ride on the DART, the Railroad Museum in Frisco, Story time at the Train Depot in Plano.) It’s ALL about homing in on what your kid loves! I promise, they will love time with you more than anything.


Katie Wells
Katie resides in Plano and is a Stay-at-Home mommy who rarely “stays at home”! Between gymnastics, Bible study, and making the most of Mother’s Day Out, she is always looking for the next fun playdate in the area! Katie and her husband are both Mississippi natives and alumni of Mississippi State University. (Insert cowbell ringing.) They started out with a four-legged child, Manny, and five years later decided they were ready for the “real thing”. They quickly realized you’re NEVER READY. Greyson was born in October 2014 and has proved to be “a little Texas Tornado.” Her favorites include ANYTHING chocolate, SEC football, Netflix binge-watching, small town festivals, shopping the clearance aisle at Marshall’s, and throwing theme parties. You can read about her adventures, victories, failures, and everything in between on her blog, Two For One Wells.