A similar scene plays across homes all around the country on Christmas morning; children wait impatiently while the grownups prepare their coffee and find a comfortable seat from where they can watch the gift-opening carnage. Too soon after gathering the scattered wrapping paper, gleefully torn-off ribbons and mangled gift bags, many of the presents that were cherished on Christmas morning will lie sadly ignored somewhere in a playroom. This is why so many families have decided to focus on giving the gift of experiences instead. Explore our list of ideas for giving the gift of Houston experiences this holiday season and make memories that will last a lifetime!
Kid & Family-Friendly Houston Experiences
- Outdoor Adventure Parks:: Go Ape, Geronimo Adventure Park and others like it encourage families to try something new together including treetop adventures, ziplines, climbing walls, ninja race courses and more.
- Arcades:: Places like Dave & Buster’s, Cidercade Houston and Palace Social can be a super fun treat, especially on those rainy or too-hot-to-be-outside days.
- Indoor Activities:: Facilities such as Main Event and Urban Air provide many indoor options for active kids such as bowling, laser tag, go karts and ropes courses. Kids and teens also love exhilarating options like Momentum Indoor Climbing and iFLY Indoor Skydiving.
- Escape Rooms:: Don’t relegate this to just a birthday party idea. If you have older kids, book an escape room experience like Locktopia as a family gift and force everyone to get along for an hour! Rain or shine, this indoor activity can be a thrilling family adventure, requiring teamwork and cooperation to survive.
- Annual Memberships:: This is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Some family-friendly ideas in Houston include Houston Zoo, The Children’s Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, and Space Center Houston. Don’t forget about your local YMCA where kids and parents can access pools, basketball courts, pickleball games, workout facilities, wellness classes, virtual studios and kid activities of all kinds.
- Sporting Events:: Houston is home to beloved major league sports teams like the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Houston Texans as well as minor league teams. Surprise the kids with tickets to a future sporting event along with some team merchandise to get them excited in the meantime.
- Family-friendly Theater:: Did you know that Houston’s Theater District ranks second in the United States (New York City ranks #1) for the number of theater seats in a concentrated downtown area? Find tickets to a favorite Broadway show coming through the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Gift a season pass or purchase tickets for family-friendly musicals put on by Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) or AD Players at the George Theater. Even very young children will enjoy Main Street Theatre for Youth productions based on children’s literature for families.
- Concert/Event Tickets:: All you have to do is click the event or ticket tab on the websites of our largest event venues such as the Toyota Center, NRG Stadium, Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands to see the hundreds of upcoming concerts and other family-friendly entertainment acts from Disney on Ice to the Harlem Globetrotters.
- Arts & Crafts:: Have an artist in the family? Gift a session at The Mad Potter, the Glassell School of Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, or other studios where they can explore their artistic side.
Houston Experiences for Adults
10. New Skill:: Give the gift of a new skill this year! Some popular ideas include cooking classes at Sur La Table, golf classes at GOLFTEC, or ballroom dance classes at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Plant lovers will appreciate tickets to workshops held at local nurseries. This season Buchanan’s Native Plants located in the Houston Heights is offering a holiday floral workshop.
11. Pampering:: Gift certificates to day spas, massage practitioners and nail salons are not the only options for pampering anymore, although those will always be solid holiday gift ideas. These days, think mobile med spa, cryotherapy, or IV therapy at lifestyle wellness spas.
12. Fitness:: Anyone mention that they wanted to try something new this year? Combine fun and fitness with class passes or a membership to a trendy pole dancing fitness studio like The Pole Experience, or a revamped classic like Jazzercise which blends dance with Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and strength training.
13. Creative Arts:: Indulge the artist in everyone and give the gift of a creative session at a place like Love & Make for candle making, Potter’s Place for a turn at a potter’s wheel, or The Rustic Brush for home décor projects you can proudly display.
14. Culinary Tours:: Embark on a foodie adventure with a guided culinary tour of local eateries. Check out one of the many food tours in Houston, including the Howdy H-Town EADO Food Tour, Houston Secret Food Tour, and the Heights Food Tour.
15. Photography Session:: Book a photo shoot as a gift. Whether it be something glam like a boudoir shoot, a new headshot session to refresh that LinkedIn profile, or family photos, give the gift of a professional snapshot and capture this moment time.
16. House Cleaning:: Though not technically an experience, gifting the services of a house cleaning crew frees up precious time for the recipient (priceless!), not to mention the tidy home they can now enjoy.
Extra Special Houston Experiences for Everyone
17. Animal Encounters at the Houston Zoo:: Admission tickets or a membership to the Houston Zoo can make a great gift for a family, but if you really want to surprise the animal lover on your list, consider gifting an Animal Encounter. Animal Encounters give guests a unique opportunity to meet the zookeepers and get up close to some of the zoo’s most popular animals such as elephants, gorillas and the new Galapagos tortoises!
18. Breakfast with an Astronaut at the Space Center Houston:: Upgrade your regular admission tickets to enjoy breakfast with an astronaut catered by Wolfgang Puck. Hear about the space program from a veteran space explorer and join in a Q&A session too.
19. HMNS George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park:: Purchase tickets to Saturday night stargazing with experts who will guide you through the experience. You need separate park entrance reservations, so make a day of it with a park visit while it’s light out and then plan to stay and enjoy a starry night.
20. Houston CityPASS:: Give the gift of a jam-packed week. A Houston CityPASS ticket includes admission to Space Center Houston plus four of the following top Houston attractions: Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum of Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, and Kemah Boardwalk in Galveston.
With all these options, there is bound to be one or more Houston experiences perfect for the people on your Christmas gift list.