How many times has this happened? You spend weeks planning for the perfect Christmas morning, and when it finally comes, you joyfully watch as your precious babies open their gifts with excitement.
They rip the toys out of the box, play with them excitedly for a full 20 minutes, then....
...they throw throw them down and move on to the next thing. That brand new toy that they had to have ends up at the bottom of the toybox (or under the bed) just a few weeks later, mostly forgotten.
The memory of opening that gift is one of joy and excitement, but tripping over the toy for the next several months until it finally gets thrown away or donated is not so joyful...
Think about it - it’s the memories we really want to give our kids. Not necessarily “things”. If you’re anything like me, you often feel overwhelmed with all the "stuff" in your house. You also recognize that we have a bit of a consumption problem in our world that seems to get worse every year. You want your kids to have a joy-filled and memorable holiday, but you're secretly dreading bringing more toys into your house.
What if there was a better way to give our kids the memories we want them to cherish, while also cutting back on the over-consumption of stuff?
Well my friend, keep reading because I’m going to give you 16 clutter free, experience-related gift ideas for kids and families in or around Lincoln. These gifts are sure to make your kiddos feel excited on Christmas morning, give them longer-lasting memories, and save your home from being swallowed by clutter.
Nature and science inspired gifts
You probably worry that your kids spend too much time on electronics. I do to. I’m always trying to find the right balance of allowing them to enjoy technology (hello, I enjoy it too - and it’s certainly not going anywhere), while also making sure they get outside once in a while.
The good news is that we can intentionally add more nature back into our kids' lives - and what better way to do that than a gift that requires you to spend more time in nature ;) Nebraska is not just a boring prairie devoid of true beauty - quite the contrary. We have a lot of really amazing places we can explore to foster a love of nature - while making some fun memories in the process.
1. Nebraska State Parks Pass - There are so many amazing places to visit in Nebraska for fun family adventures. Some of my favorites include Indian Caves and Platte River State Park. There are a bunch more I want to explore, so my family will be getting a State Parks Pass from Santa this year.
2. Fontenelle Forest Membership - Located in Bellevue, Fontenelle Forest’s mission is to “provide a place where people can experience and enjoy the quiet wild of nature”. Fontenelle Forest has tons of fun outdoor activities for families, from hiking to treebrush adventures, educational programs, and even a winter break camp. Right now, you can get $5 off when you purchase a membership as a gift.
3. Adopt an Animal at the Omaha Zoo - I recently learned that you can adopt an animal at the Omaha Zoo! They have different packages available as low as $25, which includes an adoption certificate, animal fact sheet and a photo of the animal you’ve adopted. This would be so fun for your animal lover!
4. Lincoln Children’s Zoo Membership - we have done this membership for several years, and it’s always a treat! I love that we don’t have to feel rushed when we go, and there is so much to do (especially for active kiddos). And it’s not just for summer time! We love our membership in the winter for their huge indoor park to burn off energy during super cold days.
5. Morrill Hall Membership - for the nature, history and science lover! Family memberships start at $69, and include free admission to Morrill Hall, Ashfall Fossil Beds and Trailside Museum. You also get discounts in the gift shop and for birthday parties.
Creativity Inspired Gifts
I’m a 30-something, and I remember even as far back as when I was in Elementary school the “arts” being cut from school programming. As a creative (who grew up with the message that creativity is just for “fun” and doesn’t have any real value), it makes me super sad to see how little our kiddos are encouraged to be wild, creative and weird. You can help your kiddos truly express themselves with a holiday gift that inspires creativity (and getting messy - which I’m also a fan of).
1. Lincoln Children’s Museum Membership - “The Lincoln Children’s Museum instills a love of learning for children of all ages through the lens of discovery and play” Basic memberships start at $103, with income-based memberships available to those who meet certain requirements. You can even get a discount when you purchase a dual membership to the Lincoln Children's Zoo!
2. Paint Yourself Silly - A paint your own pottery studio with two locations in Lincoln (14th and pine lake and 70th and Pioneers). Gift certificates are available online or in store
3. MakIt TakIt Craft Studio - with a variety of crafts available including yard, sewing, painting, metal stamping and more, your budding creative will love expressing themselves creatively at Makit Takit.
4. Individual Lessons - does your kiddo have an interest in music or art? Maybe they’re a budding actor/actress or have a passion for taking photos (eh hem). Lincoln offers a lot of great opportunities for private instruction to foster your kiddo’s own unique creativity. Check out Southeast Community College, Lincoln Children’s Magazine, or Save Lincoln Local on Facebook to search for an instructor or program.
Movement Inspired Gifts
I don’t know about you, but my kids are SUPER active. My 5 year old used to literally do flips in my belly when I was pregnant with her, and she hasn’t stopped moving since. The winter months tend to be a challenge for our family in a small apartment, so the following gifts are ones that I have personally used for my own family to get us out of the house and moving, especially during the cold winter months.
1. Lost in Fun Membership - We LOVE lost in fun. If your kiddos are super active like mine, with TONS of energy to burn, Lost in Fun is a great way to get all that energy out - especially during the cold winter months. They have a ball pit, huge jungle gym, a sectioned off area for younger visitors, a giant bounce pillow and more. Annual memberships start at $145 for 1 child, adults always get in free.
2. Urban Air Membership - This is another great option for your high energy kiddos - especially during cold months! Urban air is an indoor trampoline park with a sky rider, ropes course, climbing walls and more. Trust me, they’ll sleep soooooo well after this. Monthly memberships start at $6.99/month (less than Netflix - no brainer).
3. Classes at the YMCA - Even though we don’t have a gym membership there anymore, we still love all of the activities the YMCA offers for kidds - from gymnastics to dance to sports. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Y - but it’s worth including here because I think they would make great gifts (especially from Grandma and Grandpa).
4. Mini Golf - I recently went to Prehistoric Putt and immediately thought of how cool this would be for dinosaur loving kiddos! Lincoln has several mini golf courses that would be a great way to connect and build memories with your kiddos. Prices at Prehistoric Putt start at $9 for adults and $5.50 for kids 3 and older, and gift cards are available for purchase online.
5. Bowling - I always forget how much fun bowling is until we don’t go for a while. My kids are far apart in age (8 years), so it’s sometimes hard to find things that we all enjoy - but bowling is definitely one of them. Lincoln has a bunch of options for bowling, but our two favorites are Round 1 at Gateway Mall and Sun Valley Lanes near Pinnacle Bank Arena.
And there you have it! I hope these suggestions got your wheels turning on how you can give gifts that will create more fun and experiences for your kids, without all the extra clutter. Whether your kiddo could use a bit more connection with nature, a creative outlet, or more ways to get moving (or all of the above), Lincoln has so many fun gift opportunities for your kids and family.
If you found this helpful, please share with a friend or family member who could use some inspiration for experience-related gift ideas this holiday season. And if you were inspired to give the gift of experience this year, post a photo on Instagram and tag me (@novitabirthstories) - I'd love to see what you came up with for your family!