Experience Gifts for Kids

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a parent say, “My kid(s) has/have too many toys!”, well, I’d have even more makeup than I do right now. I asked friends for ideas for Gift Guides and “Gifts for Kids that Aren’t Toys” was one of the top ones.

My first suggestion when I hear this complaint, is to buy “experience” gifts vs. physical gifts. Winnipeg is a great city for finding things to do in all seasons as long as you know where to look. (Note: prices quoted below are for an individual child’s admission or membership. For more information on family, adult or senior rates, please click on the links).

For a learning experience:

We’ve taken daughter and cousins to the Children’s Museum (admission $11+GST; membership $45+GST) several times and it’s always hours of fun. With such a wide age range (oldest is 5 years older than the youngest) it has always been a challenge to find something that the littlest ones can do that won’t bore the older ones. I feel the museum appeals to all the age ranges, especially at the water table.

Other ideas: Manitoba Museum (admission $7 – $17.50; membership $35+GST, note: memberships are 15% off until Jan 8) and Winnipeg Art Gallery (admission $8; membership $30).

For an outdoor experience:

I think the majority of people in Winnipeg have been to the new Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo (admission $10.50; membership $40) but if you haven’t made it yet, I highly recommend it. Definitely go in the morning if you go in the summer, the animals are much more active than in the afternoon. Also, Daughter and I recently went to a birthday party at the zoo at the end of November and wandered around afterwards and were surprised at how active most animals were in the wintertime, especially the tigers! The zoo is open 364 days per year and we really enjoyed the wintertime experience. When you visit, take a rest at the Tundra Grill to have some lunch and check out the Polar Playground.

Polar Playground: play structure and interactive displays

Other ideas: Fort Whyte Alive (admission: $6; membership $55) and Oak Hammock Marsh (admission: $6; membership $15)

For a playdate:

Photo courtesy of GreatBigAdventure.ca

For those days when it’s -30oC plus wind chill and the kids just need to run around, we’ve had a great time at Great Big Adventure (admission: $11.95 + taxes; special promo for unlimited 2017 visits $129.99 + taxes). There’s climbing, slides, a small structure for babies/toddlers and a large sitting area for parents. While they don’t allow outside food or beverages, there is a variety of food options including pizza, popcorn, veggies & dip, yogurt, pop, etc. We love going first thing in the morning and meeting other friends and their moms and dads there. Excellent playing time for the kids and visiting time for the adults.

Other ideas: Sky Zone (admission: $12 for 30 mins; $16 for 60 mins; $20 for 90 mins; and $24 for 120 mins) and Kid City

To relax:

I love going to the movies. I would go to the movies all the time if I could. My favourite thing to do is occasionally sneak away from work early on a Tuesday, pick up Daughter from daycare early and go to a 5 pm movie. We get hot dogs and popcorn and have a great time together! For the Christmas season both Cinplex and Landmark are having extra deals on their giftcards: with the purchase of the giftcard, get coupons and/or extra freebies. (See links for details).

Any experience-type gifts that I missed? Please leave me a comment. Happy Shopping!

Items I Didn’t Know I Needed and Now I Can’t Live Without – Kitchen Edition

Welcome to a new series of “Items I Didn’t Know I Needed and Now I Can’t Live Without!” These are items that I either bought or received as gifts and now can’t imagine getting through a day or week without them. It’s sort-of a gift guide since it’s things I love and I think others would love too.

My first item is hands-down, my Breville electric variable tempurature kettle. It is amazing. It has five preset temperature setting for making various types of tea which is wonderful but the best feature, in my opinion, is that it has a KEEP WARM button that keeps the kettle at the preset temperature for 15 minutes. Which is amazing for someone like me, who presses the button and walks away, forgetting about the boiled water. With the KEEP WARM function, it’s much more likely that I’m going to catch water at the correct temperature. If you have a tea lover in your house, this would be a great gift, I use mine everyday and whine (to myself) when I have to use a regular electric kettle. I have linked to Teavana above but it’s also available at Hudson’s Bay.

Keeping with the warm-beverage theme, I LOVE my milk frother. Since Starbucks introduced me to the amazingness of tea lattes, they have been my go-to drink for Starbucks trips and afternoon-tea-at-home time. My model is discontinued but Starbucks did a redesign this year and the new model is much less likely to break (which is what my other one did). My first model was an espresso and milk frother combo but since I don’t drink coffee I much prefer the frother-only style. Tip: pick up some Joy tea to mix with your hot milk – you won’t be sorry.

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When I asked my mom to contribute to this list, she immediately said, “My rice cooker!” I can’t remember why I picked her up a rice cooker for Christmas a few years ago but she swears it’s the perfect set-it-and-forget-it small appliance. Pair it with your slow cooker for easy meals for busy families.

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i have used Brita filters and dispensers for years. I know we have pretty good water in Winnipeg but I like to extra filter our water, apparently. My one complaint was always that the dispenser was too small. One or two glasses of water and the whole thing was empty and then next person didn’t get cold water. This gigantic Brita dispenser makes me so happy. It’s also helpful as small children can get their own water with the side tap dispenser. We bought ours at Target when it was in Canada, but I found the same one at Amazon.ca.

My last item is my Kitchen Aid mixer. Before I bought mine, I thought this item was a superfluous small appliance and believe me, I am the queen of small appliances! But I am okay to admit when I’ve made a mistake and boy, was I wrong. This appliance is amazing. I use it to mix cookie batter, mix ground beef into hamburgers, kneed dough for pizza crusts. I love that you can also get extra attachments like pasta makers and meat grinders (not that I have those things but I COULD get them if I wanted, lol).

So, there we go. My favourite kitchen items that I didn’t know I even needed. Do you have any items for the kitchen that are you absolute favourite? I’d love to hear about them. Happy Shopping!

Note: All these items are things I actually own and either received from family members/friends or bought myself. No items were provided as promotional products.