My girls have a lot of stuff*. So much stuff, in fact, that we have just finished our basement in order to store and play with this stuff and not have it all over the house. Yes, I do know my kids are spoiled. They know they are spoiled. Everyone in my family knows they are spoiled. It’s because we all spoil them.

You can see why I am fearing the upcoming holiday. Where will we put more stuff? Yes, we can donate quite a bit of our stuff, and we do. But I don’t want to do that just to replace it with other stuff. And yes, stuff is nice. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. It’s all the rage. But please, no more stuff. 

So this year, I am suggesting, encouraging, and hoping for experiences for our girls. As much as my girls love stuff, they also love doing. So to prepare for the onslaught of “What do the girls want this year?” I’ve prepared a list of experiences and memberships available in the Boston area. Here are some of the suggestions I’m making:

A membership to the local children’s museum

Whether it’s the Boston Children’s Museum, the Fall River Children’s Museum, the Cape Cod Children’s Museum, or the Easton Children’s Museum (my personal favorite since it’s only 15 minutes from my home!), a family membership is a great idea! Costs range from $60-220/year, depending on the number of children/adults and the perks you are interested in. What’s great about these memberships is that they pay for themselves within a few visits. They are great for use during school vacations, days off, and summer break.

Aquarium memberships

The New England Aquarium in Boston and Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut are two family favorites. These memberships range from $109-305/year, again depending on the number of children/adults included in the membership. Memberships at the aquarium include discounts at their stores, monthly perks, and special members-only events! If your little ones love the sea, an aquarium membership is definitely a great idea for a gift this year.

Zoo memberships

There are so many zoos in New England. For the Boston area, we love Franklin Park and Stone Zoo, Southwick Zoo (offering memberships through EARTH Limited), Capron Park Zoo, Buttonwood Park Zoo, and Roger Williams Park Zoo (in Rhode Island). Zoo memberships range in price from $70-422/year. The zoo may seem like a place to visit in the summer months only, but there are so many things happening there year round! Whether it’s jack-o’-lanterns, Christmas lights, or adult/parent nights, the zoo can provide endless fun and education! Our girls love visiting the animals and walking around Roger Williams Park Zoo, and we typically do so many times throughout the spring, summer, and fall!

Museum of Science membership

This membership is great for kids of all ages! We were once gifted a family membership when my oldest was 2. I wasn’t sure how it would work out with such a young child, but she loved it there! While many of the exhibits are for older children, the Museum of Science also provides great adventures for little ones! Membership prices range from $95-215/year.

A fantastic thing to note about many of these memberships is that they hold some reciprocal value with other museums, zoos, and aquariums. While in Los Angeles over the summer, I was able to use my Roger Williams Zoo membership to receive 50% off the entrance fee to the LA Zoo for my whole party — it saved us quite a lot of money and provided us with an amazing experience!

Other gift experiences

My girls love jumping. A lot. So a gift card to a trampoline park is ALWAYS welcome in my home. They would also love to visit Legoland Boston, see Disney on Ice, or attend any other live show with their favorite characters performing.

While my girls love stuff, and I am always grateful for any gift they receive, they really don’t need more of it. Yes, they love opening gifts — who doesn’t?! But for now, when someone asks what to get the girls, I will begin by suggesting these experiences rather than more stuff.

*Stuff can generally be defined as any and all toys one can find at Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. We love it. We own it. We don’t need more of it. Though they (and I) will gladly accept and appreciate it if an experience is not what you’d like to gift them this year.

Sarah grew up in Rhode Island and now lives in West Bridgewater, making brief stops in Quincy, Fall River, and East Bridgewater, along the way. She made the leap from Rhode Island to Massachusetts way back in 1999 when she decided to pursue a teaching degree at Boston University. She chose her career in 1987 and is currently teaching high school English to 10th and 12th graders, fulfilling a 6-year-old’s dream at the age of 22, a proclamation that often brings forth snickers from her students. She became a mother for the first time in 2016 to her daughter Cecilia, then doubled down in late 2018 with the birth of her second daughter, Adelaide. She currently lives with her husband, Jason, their dog, Nanook, their cat, Lanky, and six chickens. They share a home with her parents, who live above them and also provide the most amazing childcare for Ceci and Addie. Sarah couldn’t live without her family, her insulin pump (shout out to other T1D mamas), and Starbucks iced chai lattes. She could live without angry people, essay grading, and diaper changing.