Giving experience gifts: a guide for Vancouver preschoolers

Elliot likes making things. 

Elliot somehow amasses toys. I’m not sure how, because we really don’t buy that many for him. When Christmas rolls around, I’ve been asking our family to give him gift certificates towards classes or drop-ins, rather than things. At three years old, I know we’re reaching the end of when that will possible, in no time he’ll have very specific requests for toys, so I’m taking advantage of this while I can!

As I was researching Elliot’s Christmas list, I thought it would be nice to share it with you too.

Jump! Gymnastics (Yaletown) gymnastics classes for kids up to 8, email them to purchase gift certificates.

Collage Collage (East Van) arts and crafts classes for all ages, including drop-in make classes. Call them on 604.569.1929 to arrange gift certificates.

Carousel Theatre (Granville Island) theatre productions for kids, plus a theatre school starting from 3 years old. Gift certificates work for both tickets to live performances and the school, call them on 604.669.3410 to arrange.

Arts Umbrella (Granville Island & Surrey) art, dance, music classes up to teenaged. Call them on 604.681.5268 to arrange gift certificates.

Yoga Buttons (Kitsilano) yoga classes for all ages.  Call them on 604.739.9642 to arrange gift certificates, or pick them up at the studio.

There are memberships to great places around the city that give you a place to go out of the rain – and when you’re member they often give you first choice of workshops and classes. Plus it means if your child pitches a fit ten minutes into a visit, you didn’t lose the entrance price if you have to go. Speaking as a person who has carried a shouty boy the entire length of the Vancouver Aquarium and most of the parking lot.

Science World (False Creek) a great kids’ area with a big water table, loads of things to roll balls down and some climbing. Lots of other things to smash, things that make loud noises, and puzzles and tinkly things too. Great shows in the atrium about bubbles, static electricity and more. IMAX theatre. Weekend and school break science camps. Family membership is $140 a year/$230 for 2 years, which includes two adults and up to 4 children (3-18 years old). That is for admission, and you get a discount on IMAX films, the shop and birthday parties.

Vancouver Aquarium (Stanley Park) Whales, seals, sea otters, penguins, tropical frogs, dolphins and the biggest fish tank you’ve ever seen. Plus a kids’ area with underwater viewing windows onto the dolphin area. It’s pretty amazing. Family membership is $138 for one year/$250 for 2, and includes two adults and up to 4 children (4-18 years old). That’s free admission, invite-only events, discounts for guests as well as on camps and parties (sleepovers!).

Bloedel Conservatory (Queen Elizabeth Park) Greenhouse gardens with beautiful birds flying free inside, including huge parrots that will sometimes even say hello! It’s not huge, but the paths wind around inside, and it’s lovely and warm. It’s heaven in February when you’re sick of the cold and rain. They don’t have their own membership program, but when I phoned, I was told they’re looking into partnering with the VanDusen Association, so in the near future you might be able to connect it up with…

VanDusen Botanical Garden (South Vancouverish) A lovely expanse of lawns, trees, ponds and pathways, the VanDusen Gardens is a terrific place to go exploring. They have the best membership program I’ve seen in Vancouver, with single adult family memberships ($50 for 1 year/$90 for 2 years) that includes one adult and an unspecified amount of children, or a dual adult family membership ($73 for 1 year/$130 for 2 years) for two adults and children.

And finally, this doesn’t count as an experience as it’s technically more ‘stuff’, but I think monthly-in-the-post boxes are so cool. Books don’t fit in the ‘stuff’ department in my mind, anyway.

Mail a Tale is the monthly subscription book service for kids and we have been members for about six months. I love them. Elliot gets so excited every time his book box arrives, even the woman fetching our box at the post office thought it was cute. Subscriptions start at $19.95/month.

Have I missed something great? Probably! Let me know in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Giving experience gifts: a guide for Vancouver preschoolers”

  1. Sadly, we’re past the point where this is possible with my preschooler. It’s not so much that he has very specific requests (although he does), as that he’s very disappointed when he doesn’t get to unwrap a toy. He has an idea of what happens on birthdays and Christmas, and like most preschoolers, he doesn’t like it when things deviate from that idea.

    My daughter is seven, though, and we’re coming out the other side of this now. If she could get dance lessons for Christmas, for example, I think she’d be thrilled.

    1. I know what you mean – we usually give him a few little bits to unwrap. I totally understand how that would not work with some little ones though. Good to know they come round to it again!

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