Give the Gift of Experience in Des Moines, Iowa

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Give the Gift of Experience in Des Moines, Iowa

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving. I know having two children, we get a lot of stuff this time of year. Toys are great, but sometimes when it is too much, it easily gets forgotten about and not put to the greatest use. When friends and family ask what you or your children want this year, why not ask for something that you can experience and remember forever? I have created some great ideas, specifically for Des Moines (support local friends!) of what you and your family could include on your Christmas lists this year.

Shopping for holiday gifts? Check out these other guides to buying gifts this season:


Asking for a membership to one of the places listed below is such a great idea. These memberships can be used multiple times, all year round and you will save so much money!

  • Adventureland
  • Blank Park Zoo 
  • Climb Iowa
    • Whether you purchase a membership, punch card, or a couple of day passes, this is a great gift to give. Maybe a close friend or family member has always wanted to try rock climbing. Give them the chance to experience it for Christmas.
  • Des Moines Art Center
    • Not many families think of the Des Moines Art Center if they have young kids, but this is a great place to introduce art to your children no matter their age!
  • Des Moines Children’s Museum
    • The Des Moines Children’s Museum is loaded with interactive exhibits, fun programming, and other fun things.
  • Goldfish Swim School
    • This holiday season, give a gift that will last a lifetime! Kids learn water safety skills while having fun, making friends, and building confidence. Kids love Goldfish Swim School’s fun, tropical environment, and 90-degree pools. Parents get the peace of mind of knowing that kids are learning an essential life skill. There’s no better gift than that!  
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens 
    • The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a beautiful place to play and explore all year round. They offer tons of fun events and classes throughout the year too!
  • Jou Jou Des Moines
    • Jou Jou Des Moines is an indoor playspace that’s inspired by the smallest children’s need for movement and curiosity. A space filled with moments that inspire connectedness for parents and children.

Gift Cards + Passes

Winter is rolling around and after the holidays are over, I promise you, it will be cold and snowy. You will want to get out and have your children burn off some energy. These places are great options to ask for gift cards and/or passes. Use them during Winter Break or a rainy day this Summer. 

  • Urban Air Ankeny
  • Warrior Lanes
  • WeWash Laundry Co.
    • Have someone else handle the laundry!
  • Date Night 
    • I know when it comes to date nights, it can be super hard when you have children. We always make plans to do something once a month or twice a month, but we decide we do not want to spend the money or we do not have time. Ask family and friends to get you gift cards to a new restaurant (there are tons opening up around here) or a favorite restaurant you both enjoy.


This may be more towards the moms out there, but dads would highly enjoy pampering too! There are several salons and spas in the area where you can purchase packages to give to your loved ones. Everyone deserves a little self-love.

  • Trixie’s Salon
    • Looking for a new hairstyle? This is not your typical place to get your haircut. Enjoy your hair appointment while receiving a soothing hand massage or hydrating eye treatment. They offer so many amazing services on top of the hair. Purchase a gift certificate and a unique gift from their boutique shop to go with it.
  • Coachlight Clinic & Spa
    • Enjoy a massage and their amazing spa amenities before your appointment.
  • East Village Spa
  • Revive Dermatology Clinic and Spa
    • Revive Dermatology Clinic and Spa offers advanced, minimally invasive aesthetic and dermatology treatments.


Do you have a child who is interested in trying out a new extracurricular activity or you just have not had the chance to go check out a class? Have someone buy you a gift card to somewhere you are wanting to begin classes. This is a great idea to try it out and see if you like it! Or if you or your children are already involved in an extracurricular activity, see if they offer gift cards/certificates. This may be a great way to save some money on a monthly expense.

  • Fitness Classes
    • There are several places in Des Moines that offer punch cards and/or gift cards. Have you been wanting to try Zumba or yoga? Or check out BURN Bootcamp. A personal favorite of mine.
  • Jester Park Equestrian Center
    • Are you interested in horseback riding or maybe your kiddos are? This is the perfect place to take lessons!
  • Martial Arts 
  • Pied Piper Studios
    • Pied Piper Studios offers tons of fun workshops and classes with musical instruments, including our favorite Kindermusik. 


There always seems to be a show, concert, play, etc. that comes to town, but we never want to spend the money. If you know your favorite artist is coming, or love live music, ask for tickets. Don’t forget about sporting events too!

Build Something – Get Creative

  • AR Workshop
  • Art Terrarium
  • Build-A-Bear
  • Candle Bar DSM
  • Five Monkeys Inc.
  • Glazed Expressions
  • Create an Art Supply Basket
    • Yes, I know this is considered actual stuff, but we all know how much art supplies our children fly through. Create a huge basket filled with coloring books, glue, stickers, crayons, paints, markers, etc. Maybe, even buy specific items to create a special project that you have been eyeing on Pinterest. This is also a great idea for the teachers in your life. 
  • Subscription Boxes.
    • Yes, again, more stuff, but this is a great way to try new things. There are tons of options out there. Check out my Subscription Addiction. They have them broken down into categories such as children, men, and women.


Weekend getaways are always fun for the entire family! Look into these local or nearby locations, to see if they offer gift cards or plan the trip and create your own fun gift certificate. It could be as simple as a weekend getaway or a grand trip to Disney. Also, if you are already planning a fun trip for this upcoming year, tell friends and family you would like gift cards to go towards your trip expenses.


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

One thought on “Give the Gift of Experience in Des Moines, Iowa

  1. Avatar Amy Yuska says:

    We live giving experience! These are great ideas- thank you!!

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