The Gift of Experience | The Life of K: The Gift of Experience

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Gift of Experience

When I read this post about giving experiences instead of toys, I knew it was something I wanted to adopt for my family. I already try to limit the number of gifts we give the kids at Christmas (by following the 4 gift rule) but this takes it to another level.

This family gives their children one toy but the rest are gifts of experience. The idea is that experiences make us more happy than things. Experiences become part of who we are. I especially love the tip about getting family on board by gifting experiences to them as well!

It got me thinking... what would make good experience gifts in Ottawa? Why not create a list in case other people are tired of the piles of toys (not that we aren't all grateful that so many people love our kids!) This is a list of things for kids, but a lot would be great for adults too (I'm looking at you, Skyzone and Funhaven!)

Please let me know in the comments if you can think of anything to add. Here we go!


Memberships or passes to the city's museums are such a great idea!

Museum of Nature
National Gallery of Canada
History Museum, Children's Museum and the War Museum
Science and Technology, Aviation, Agriculture
Little Ray's Reptiles
Valleyview Little Animal Farm

Art activities

Not all kids can sit through painting a mug or want to learn to sew, but lots do!

Color Me Mine (Nepean and Trainyards)
Gotta Paint (Kirkwood Ave.) 
The Mud Oven (Bank Street)
The Pottery Play House (Stittsville)
Pop Up Painters
Fabrications (Sewing classes for kids)
Stained Glass Stuff

City of Ottawa

I would go to the facility you're interested in and ask there.

Gift cards


National Arts Centre (NAC) - they have both packages and gift cards
Centerpointe Theater (Nepean) and Shenkman Arts Center (Orleans)
Gymboree Play & Music (Orleans)
Monkey Rock Music

Gymnastics Places

Most gyms have drop ins especially for young kids.

Precision Gymnastics (Barrhaven)
Starr Gymnastics
Corona Gym (Nepean)
Ottawa Gymnastics Centre
Tumblers Gymnastics Center (Orleans)

Indoor Play

Monkey Around (Bank Street south)
Kids Kingdom (Kanata and Orleans)
Altitude Climbing Gym (Gatineau)
Midway Fun Park
Xtreme Trampoline Park (Kanata)
Archery Games
Kids Fitness League
Cosmic Adventures
Tubes and Jujubes (Gatineau)
Little Lotus Yoga Classes 
Cooking Classes
Disney On Ice
Putting Edge (indoor mini putt, Nepean)

Outdoor Play

Pirate Adventures (Mooney's Bay)
Saunders Farm
Nepean BMX
Alight at Night (Upper Canada Village)


Merivale Bowling
West Park Lanes 
McArthur Lanes (Vanier)
Walkley Bowling
Orleans Bowling

Go Karts

Karter's Korners
Top Karting (Gatineau) 
Amigo Karting (Gatineau, 8+)

Water parks

Mont Cascades

Race Registrations

These races all have a family run or short distance, except the Mud Hero which would be for older kids. Run or walk with your kids and in a lot of cases, raise money or awareness for a cause at the same time. Great for combining activity and charity.

TriKids Race Series (Triathlons)
Ottawa Race Weekend (May)
Army Run (September)
South Ottawa Race Day (October)
Rattle Me Bones (October, CHEO)
Canada Day Run (July, Kanata)
Manotick Miler (May, Manotick)
The Color Run
Mud Hero (June, Navan)

Random ideas

- movie passes
- ski/snowboard passes
- gift card to a restaurant
- dance lessons
- drawing class

Outside Ottawa

Maybe you're looking for a day- or weekend trip. Toronto, Montreal, Montebello and Brockville aren't too far and have some pretty fun stuff!

Wonderland (Toronto)
Ripley's Aquarium (Toronto)
Parc Omega (Montebello, Quebec)
La Ronde (Quebec)
Montreal Science Center
Montreal Biodome
Aquatarium (Brockville)

Christmas Activities

Spending time together at Christmas is what's important. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your kids.

Write and mail letters to Santa
Sing Christmas carols
Decorate cookies
Make a gingerbread house
Make Christmas Rice Crispie squares
Make dipped marshmallows using red and green sprinkles
Watch Christmas movies/shows
Make ornaments (Ninja Turtles, salt dough ornaments)
Christmas crafts (check Pinterest for ideas)
Santa Claus parade (complete list of parades around Ottawa here)
Visit Santa at the mall
Pick a gift to donate
Put up the tree and decorate
Go sledding
Put on red, green and silver nail polish

Let me know in the comments of any other ideas and I'll add them to this post!


  1. These are great ideas. Wow! I think you've covered your bases. Sometimes time best family experiences are the ones that are close to home, aren't they? We always enjoyed building a snowman and drinking hot chocolate. What about an excursion to Taffy Lane, or to see the Christmas lights downtown?

    1. Good idea! There's a light show at Parliament, right?

  2. There is a Mud Hero race for little girls did it at age 5 and age 6

  3. Terrific post, Kamerine! Lots of great ideas here. I'm all for experiences myself. I love getting an experience as a gift. I never forget an experience...but I do forget gifts.

  4. A really great round up, I'll be passing this along to the grandparents :)