8 non-toy gifts for Chicago kids

I cannot keep up with the latest toy craze to hit the holiday market. I just saw a commercial for Fingerlings, and I’m glad my kids don’t know what they are yet. The thing is, even if I tackle another soccer mom for the last one in Target, my child would probably open it on Christmas morning, throw it across the room, and play with the box it came in. 

There will always be a few top toys I can’t escape from under our tree, but in recent years I have moved toward gifting unique experiences and memberships. These gifts provide learning opportunities, creative outlets, social interaction, and above all, they don’t break before the day is done. 

Here are eight gift ideas for your child that will keep you far away from holiday lines and marked-up toys.

Little Diners Crew

Geared towards ages 4-12, Little Diners Crew gives kids the opportunity to try new foods from around the world, and be educated on the culture of that region. Little Diners Crew visits a new restaurant each month, and with a membership, kids can pick and choose which cuisine they would like to experience next!

Little Passports

Each month, children ages 3 to 13 will receive a Little Passports box with a different learning theme. Whether they get a passport to a new country to learn about the culture through toys and projects, or a new science experiment, your child will be excited for the mail each month.


Not sure what experiences they’ll like? A Pearachute membership offers kids the flexibility to try new activities around Chicagoland. From ballet and art classes to Jiu Jitsu and yoga, the littlest one on your list will get to pick and choose their favorite activities. 

Ultimate Ninjas

If your child, niece, nephew or grandchild is an American Ninja Warrior fan, they will absolutely love this this gym. Ultimate Ninjas offers open play on rock climbing walls, cargo nets, trapeze swings and so much more. Consider gifting a class or two, or signing kids up for their camps. There are three convenient locations around Chicagoland. 

Escape Factor

This uniquely puzzling adventure is great for problem solvers. A new location in Forest Park opened just in time for the holidays! There are three different rooms that offer fun and interactive puzzles; try to unlock the room before time runs out! The recommended age is 7 and this adventure would be best as a sibling, group or family gift.


Gift the gift of flight! During an iFly experience kids gear up in a helmet and flight suit, and get into flight simulation chamber to fly like Wonder Woman or Superman.

Blo Blow Dry Bar

This experience is perfect for anyone who wants to get pampered like a princess. Gift cards can cover hair and makeup services. 

Sky Zone

Sky Zone is a warehouse of trampoline goodness. Kids can jump on their own, participate in an obstacle course, launch themselves into a foam pit, play trampoline basketball or jump in a game of dodgeball. Gift cards are available.

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