Create memories, not clutter, with the gift of an experience this holiday season
We’ve put together the definitive list of Champaign-Urbana experience gifts that your family will love to give or receive
When you don’t necessarily want more stuff and your kids certainly don’t NEED more stuff, experience gifts are where it is at. Someone asks what to get your child for the holidays? You can share a whole list of ideas that will either be a one-time thing or enjoyed all year long. Many of these even have complementary “token” items you can wrap up so that the giver has something to actually gift the recipient when you have your holiday get together.
Chambanamoms thanks Hill Dental for presenting these ideas.
A trip to Hill Dental is more than a trip to the dentist. It’s an experience. They aim to change your mind about visiting the dentist—and to make them your favorite doctor to see! They value forming patient relationships and producing quality work that you can trust. They offer nitrous oxide in the office if you are feeling a little nervous. The most important goal for our team is to treat all parents and children with the utmost respect. They are wishing you all of the hope, wonder, and joy that the season can bring!
Tips to giving the gift of an experience:
- Give the child a small, inexpensive item that relates to the “experience” gift. Want to give that pool membership? Wrap up a pool toy. If you give movie tickets, pick up a cute popcorn bucket and throw in some candy.
- If the event has a specific date, create a countdown calendar for the child to post in his/her space. Doesn’t have to be purchased; homemade or printouts are good enough.
- If the gift is something they’ve never tried before or haven’t been to, get them excited about it by watching related videos on YouTube or finding photos.
Our 2023 Champaign-Urbana “Experience” Gift List
- Big Illini fans in the house? Buy your children Fighting Illini Kids Club All-American memberships. In addition to free football and men’s basketball tickets, All-American members will receive a Kids Club Passport, which allows members to get their passports stamped at any Fighting Illini regular season event and a free beanie, along with other prizes, too.
- Get a family membership to the Children’s Discovery Museum (Bloomington-Normal) or the Children’s Museum of Illinois (Decatur). BONUS TIP: if you get the “Family Plus Membership” in Bloomington-Normal or “Fun Family Membership” in Decatur, the membership provides discounts at other museums around the country.
- Space fans? Get a family membership to the Staerkel Planetarium, which offers free admission to unlimited shows for a year.
- Maybe you want a zoo membership instead of or in addition to a museum. Zoo memberships are a great reason to take a day trip somewhere outside of C-U, and most zoo memberships pay for themselves in just two visits.
- Summer pool memberships are a great gift idea, even if outdoor swim season seems so far away. The park districts offer some of the best rates of the year around the holidays and Sholem Aquatic Center runs a Cyber Monday sale on Monday, Nov. 27 (online only) with the best price on season passes all year long.
- Dog park memberships are great for active dogs and their families. For example, the Urbana Dog Park annual membership is $46 plus a $10 fob fee for a resident, for one dog.
- The Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign offers a great year-round membership opportunity for families and kids. Enjoy open swim, open gym and so much more when you become Y members.
TICKETS TO EVENTS
- What kid wouldn’t want Illini men’s basketball tickets? Great options for games coming up, especially those over winter break right after the holiday. Women’s basketball tickets are inexpensive, and just as fun!
- Krannert Center for the Performing Arts has fabulous options for families. Don’t want to buy a specific show? You can purchase gift certificates to Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in any denomination; these gift certificates never expire.
LESSONS, CLASSES, CAMPS and OUTINGS
- Buy a package of lessons – music, gymnastics, dance, ice skating, roller skating, martial arts? The list is endless.
- Sign up for a class. A great idea for big kids, Parkland College offers specialty classes, like archery, coding, chess camp and more.
- Visit an escape room, like CU Adventures Time and Space, either as a family or take your child and a group of their friends.
- Pick up some treats to decorate together or take a cake/cookie decorating class. We know Hunny Bunny Bakes offers these things!
- Make them flip with an Open Gym Punch Card at I-Power School of Gymnastics.
- Looking ahead to summer? Send a kid to camp next summer and give them a week to look forward to all winter long. 4-H Camp in Monticello isn’t open for registration yet but its a good option and close by. Have an older child into music? Illinois Youth Summer Music camps are wildly popular with families well beyond C-U. Illinois Athletics will have sports camps too.
- Got a child with an artistic flair? Plan a trip to The Pottery Place in Champaign or Pretties by Paris where you can make beautiful creations together that will last a lifetime.
- Kids will jump for joy with a gift card to Elevate Trampoline Park in Champaign. Maybe the after school membership is a good fit for your family, or just scoop up a punch card.
- Buy a gift card for roller skating at Skateland in Savoy, or take to the ice with the gift of ice skating at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.
- Go bowling at the Illini Union Rec Room. Or let the kids play old school arcade games there.
- Blacklight mini-golf is a thing and if you’ve never done it in the middle of winter, you’re missing out.
- Movie tickets never go out of style.
- Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Print out a recipe, take a shopping trip to the store to purchase all the ingredients, and set a date for cooking together. Your work product is edible (hopefully!). Sometimes Common Ground Food Co-Op has kids cooking classes too.
PLAN A ROAD TRIP
- Surprise your family with a stay at a water park and break up those winter blues. We’ve seen lots of families heading to the Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee.
- Plan a day trip (or overnight) via Amtrak to Chicago. So much to do!
- Don’t forget about all the things happening in St. Louis, where the Gateway Arch experience is fun and educational — and you don’t even need a ticket to the top to visit. Also, the new aquarium has opened.
- Get your fill of Abraham Lincoln with a trip to Springfield.
- We’re big fans of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, a great place for children (and adults) of all ages.
- Terre Haute is an unexpected place for a fun, inexpensive getaway.
- Find an inexpensive hotel night here – kids love hotel pools.
- Our girls can’t get enough manis and pedis. Our readers weigh in on where to go with kids.
- Hair color is another big trend, for boys as well as girls. Treat them to a professional experience.
- Fresh flowers can brighten any day, no matter how old you are. Sign up for a flower delivery subscription through Delight Flower Farm.
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
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