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Experience Based Gifts for Kids in Erie, PA

My husband and I are pretty minimalist. So it was a rude awakening when we had kids and the plastic toys started pouring in. Little plastic knick knacks started accumulating from every celebration: birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, even birthday parties that weren't their own! It was frustrating to see these trinkets either break, get lost in a sea of other plastic toys, or sit unused at the bottom of the toy box. So my husband and I decided that we wanted to focus more on experience based gifts instead of plastic toys for our kids.


A boy squeezes a plaid stuffed dog in Ashley Stack Photography's studio in Erie, PA

Now, I'm not saying that my kids don't have toys! Being a former preschool and Kindergarten teacher, I absolutely believe in the necessity of toys! I'm a firm believer in learning through play; and in order to do that, kids need to have some toys! But I also believe that the things a person will remember the most are experiences shared with the ones they love. So we decided that for birthdays or Christmas we'd get a couple toys; but we'd also invest in an experience gift. This might be something like a family trip to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate our two oldest kiddos' birthdays. Or it could adopting a kitten for our daughter's 11th birthday. We feel that experience based gifts will have a longer lasting impact than a material present.


A girl in a bathing suit runs into a crashing wave at the beach

So it's in that spirt that I put together this list of experience based gifts for kids specifically in Erie, PA. (However, a lot of these could translate to any city!) I've also broken it up into different types of interests. I hope this list helps you in shopping for your family this holiday season! And of course, you can never go wrong with gifting a portrait session to someone special in your life! If you know someone who's expecting, just had a baby, or would love updated family photos, I happily offer gift certificates!


For the Animal Lovers:


A girl wearing a pink tutu holds her dog's leash as they look down a tree lined road in Erie, PA

Your child will receive 1 photo and letter per month for 5 months from an animal at the Erie Zoo! You kiddo can just enjoy the picture and letter or they can write back!

This café is perfect for any cat lover in your life! Make an afternoon out of your trip by enjoying some treats at the café and then visiting the kitties!

Take a tour of working buffalo farm in Edinboro! While you're there enjoy a petting zoo, seasonal activities, and some tasty food!

Schedule a trail ride or take some horse back riding lessons in North East!


For Active Kiddos:


Three siblings run under a blanket held by their mother and father during a photoshoot with Ashley Stack Photography

Purchase a gift card for your kiddo and enjoy VR games, laser tag, and an arcade! It's also BYOB for parents, too!

Enjoy bowling and arcade games with your kiddos!

There's special toddler jump pricing for younger kiddos. There's also an "all you can jump" on Friday and Saturday nights!

This is for the younger kids! Jumpin Jungle offers an entire room full of inflatable bounce houses and is available for hour long, private rentals! My younger two kiddos LOVE this place!


For Creative Kids:


A girl paints in Ashley Stack Photography's studio in Erie, PA during a photoshoot

Choose a piece of pottery with your kiddo and let them paint it however they'd like! Walk-ins are welcome and they'll even ship your piece out if necessary!

Register your younger children for a music class and enjoy a fun-filled 45 minute class with Ms. Mary!

Enjoy a night out in the newly renovated Warner Theater! They'll be performing Toy Story Saturday, February 18th and Sunday, February 19th! Watch the film while the score is played live!


For Sporty Kids:


A young toddler attempts to climb a rock climbing wall on a playground in Erie, PA

Want your child to learn a new winter sport? Gift them some ski lessons through Mount Pleasant in Edinboro! They offer private and group instruction. And if lessons aren't your kiddo's thing, there's always tubing!


I hope this list gave you some ideas and inspired some great gift giving! I'd love to hear of any other local businesses that would make a great experience gift! Let me know in the comments!


Until next time, take care and smile pretty!


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