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EXPERIENCE GIFTS ARE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO BUYING STUFF FOR YOUR TEEN
As the mum of a teenager, I am well aware of how challenging it is to find gifts that teens will genuinely be excited to receive that don’t involve remortgaging your home or just adding more STUFF to their bedrooms to gather dust.
One solution is to buy them an experience instead, something that they will really enjoy doing. Experience gifts can also be a great opportunity for the family to do something fun together.
My most recent success was giving my 13-year-old tickets to see Harry Styles at Wembley Stadium. We gave her the tickets for Christmas by hiding them inside a Harry Styles book. The look on her face when she opened the book and found the tickets was truly a magical Christmas moment.
Concert tickets are just one experience. There are plenty of others that give teens a chance to learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, or get the adrenaline flowing and make memories that last forever.
As I alluded to earlier, there are also benefits for parents. Firstly (most importantly), it can be a great way to spend quality time with your teen. Secondly, it’s a great way to cut down on teen bedroom clutter.
It’s also useful to have an idea or two for experiential gifts up your sleeve for when the inevitable requests for ideas come rolling in from grandparents, aunts and uncles. Whilst giving money is sometimes the best option, giving an experience gift or contributing to one can be more special for both the giver and the receiver.
BRILLIANT EXPERIENCE GIFTS FOR TEENAGERS
Here are some experiences for teenagers that make perfect gift ideas. Given that the gift you buy may well be dependent on location, this list will likely serve as inspiration. That said, I’ve included some virtual experiences too.
EXPERIENCE LEARNING A NEW SKILL
Here’s a list of great ideas for experience gifts that will enable teens to build on existing skills or learn new ones.
Coding classes are both a great way to engage teens and also a great investment in their future, given that the tech industry is crying out for digitally literate recruits. Fun Tech offers an array of different coding courses, there are virtual, day camps and residential camps.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT LESSONS
Your child might be learning piano or violin as part of their extra-curricular activities. But how about giving them the chance to learn something more rock or indie? For example, the British School of Rock offers lessons in electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals.
Leith’s Cookery School (That’s Leith as in Pru Leith) offers a six-week virtual cookery course for teens aged 13-18, where they learn all the essential skills and techniques needed for a lifetime of independent cooking.
FASHION DESIGN COURSE
University of the Arts (think London School of Fashion and Central St. Martins) offers a selection of art and fashion design courses for teenagers under its Future Creatives programme at various locations around the UK.
PERFORMING ARTS WORKSHOP
Your teen may already take dance classes or drama classes, but how about a workshop to help them really develop their skills? Try West End Theatre or British Youth Music Theatre for performing arts camps and workshops for teens.
Given most teens are incredibly visually switched on due to their usage of smartphones, how about a photography course to help them perfect their art? Central St. Martins offers a short course in photography specifically for 16-18 year olds. My friend’s daughter took this course in the summer and gained loads of confidence and skills from it.
FILM MAKING COURSE
How about a course in filmmaking, not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera? The Young Film Academy offers a variety of screen acting and film production courses, both virtually and at their London HQ.
Given the propensity for teens to loll around in their bedrooms, a gift that gets them active can go a long way to igniting a new hobby or passion.
Indoor climbing is a great way to build resilience at the same time as keeping teens active. The National Indoor Climbing Association has schools dotted around the UK and offers a variety of courses and classes.
CANOEING AND KAYAKING SKILLS
Kayaking is hugely popular with outward-bounds-loving teens. Go Paddling offers canoeing and kayaking classes and coaching at various locations around the UK.
HIGH WIRE AND ZIPLINE CHALLENGES
Your teenager may well have been to a Go Ape! birthday party when they were a kid. But have they been back to really test their nerve as a teen? Challenge Plus is the newest and most demanding Go Ape! experience.
Fishing is one of those hobbies that can last a lifetime, I know this because my husband started fishing as a teenager and is still a member of a fishing club a couple of decades on. Fishing Breaks offers a summer camp for 12-15 year olds.
Here’s something to put the wind up your teen! Indoor skydiving. iFLY has four locations around the UK.
PADI DIVING COURSE
Enable your teen to learn to love diving and swimming underwater by booking them on a PADI diving course through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
START THEM LEARNING TO DRIVE
Whilst you can’t start learning to drive on the road until you are 17 in the UK, there are a number of places that offer driving experiences to teens.
INTRODUCE THEM TO FLYING A PLANE
Escape Rooms have grown hugely in popularity over the last few years. The great thing about an escape room experience is that it can double as a birthday party for your teen. Trip Advisor has a listing for the best escape rooms in the UK.
OTHER IDEAS… WITH ADDED ADRENALINE
- Quad biking
- Kite surfing
- Shark cage diving
- Ice climbing
- Tank driving
- White water rafting
- Bungee jumping
EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE EVERLASTING MEMORIES
Giving the gift of a memorable experience is priceless. Kids grow up so fast, and the teenage years are no exception, so the opportunity to send them on an amazing experience or to enjoy it with them is precious.
I mentioned earlier that my most successful gift for my teenager of the last few months was tickets to see Harry Styles at Wembley Stadium. The fact I got to go along too is neither here nor there!
So, I can wholeheartedly say that if you know, your teen has a favourite music star or group, surprise tickets to see them in concert will always go down a storm. Check sites like TicketMaster for upcoming tours.
HARD TO COME BY TICKETS FOR SPORTING EVENTS
I am not a sports fan, but I am told that tickets to sporting events are much prized by sporty teens! Keep an eye on sites like See Tickets for what’s coming up.
One of the things I love most about now having a teenager is that she has a real love of the theatre. Long gone are the kiddie shows of her childhood, and instead, we can go as a family to enjoy some of the best theatre productions around. But theatre tickets aren’t cheap, so they make a great experience gift idea.
A professional photoshoot can be a fun experience for your teen, it’s also a lovely way to document them as a teenager. Virgin Experiences offers a selection of different photo shoot options.
A city break is a great 18th birthday gift. I know a lucky teen who got to go to New York from the UK with a friend for her 18th birthday gift. But there are LOTS of wonderful cities that would make a great city break location for a special 18th birthday weekend.
PASSES AND MEMBERSHIPS
Sometimes, it’s the more everyday things that work well, especially if the gift of a pass or membership saves them from spending their pocket money or money earned from part-time work.
The Merlin Pass is perfect for teens who love theme parks and amusement parks.
Check local listings for the best gyms in your area. Most gyms allow teens to join independently rather than needing to be on a family membership.
The amount of streaming subscriptions in the household can really mount up. So, if your teen is hankering after watching a particular service, like Apple TV or Disney+, treat them to their own subscription as a gift.
This is the Apple TV 4K Wi‑Fi + Ethernet with 128GB storage (3rd generation). Your teenager can have a world of TV and movies at their fingertips, and they can even use Siri to select a show.
If your teen is planning a gap year, you could do worse than buy them an Interrailing Pass to help them on their way.
BEFORE YOU GO…
I’ve got a growing number of curations of gift ideas for teens. Take a look if you need inspiration:
Hello, I’m Luci, founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, I have combined my experience as a mum, journalist and shopping editor to create useful guides and lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.