Let’s face it, the amount of physical gifts that kids get each birthday and holiday season can be excessive. There’s so much stuff and after a little while, toys and games get discarded and then chucked away.
This holiday season, buy them some experience gifts that they can enjoy without the waste. In addition to family bonding, these create lasting memories for kids. And after the year it’s been, it’s time to make some great memories.
You can also encourage grandparents and extended family to choose experience gifts and even participate in specific activities with kids.
Here are 50+ ideas for Newcastle & Hunter gift experiences for all budgets and interests that both kids and parents will love, plus a few from Sydney. Photo credit: TreeTop Adventure Park
Zoo or wildlife park membership
Kids cooking classes
This is a win for everyone. Kids get to learn how to cook and the family get to enjoy a meal. The Essential Ingredient offered kids cooking classes pre-COVID.
Passes to a pool or waterpark
Subscription to a kids magazine
A subscription to a kids magazine is a great gift as it lasts all year. It’s exciting for kids to receive something through the mail addressed to them. And
Get back to nature
Become a member of Hunter Wetlands Centre and receive unlimited entry for you and your
Go to a farm
Put together a jigsaw puzzle
Buy a jigsaw puzzle and enjoy some family time together putting it together. There are loads to choose from depending on the age of your kids. For little ones, choose The Wiggles jigsaw floor puzzles while older kids can enjoy more complicated puzzles including 3D ones. Clementoni puzzles are especially great as the pieces fit together really well.
Sign up for a year of geocaching challenges. It will get your family out and about searching for hidden caches using your smartphone.
Go to the theatre
There’s loads of great family theatre shows that are great to take kids. And there’s something magical about live entertainment. In Newcastle, take advantage of family subscriptions to Civic Theatre. They always feature a few high-quality family shows each year. In 2021, choose from The 91-Storey Treehouse, Bluey’s Big Play – The Stage Show and more. There’s also Hunter Drama, Young People’s Theatre and ATWEA who regularly present family productions.
Buy a bookstore gift voucher
Instead of gifting a kids book, give them a voucher so that they have the experience of choosing a book at their favourite book store.
Enjoy some eats
Does your family have a favourite place to eat or want to try somewhere new? Buy a cafe or restaurant gift certificate for a local dining spot. It’s great way to support local places who have done it tough this year.
Enjoy a family trip away
Get up close to sharks and stingrays
Pat sharks and stingrays on a date at the Irukandji Shark & Ray Centre. Change into a wetsuit and climb into one of four pools to get up close to these critters.
Swing through the trees
Buy tickets for TreeTops adventure park. It’s a fun yet adventurous activity which gets participants climbing, crawling and ziplining in the
Don’t feel like sandboarding. How about toboganning down a 1km track? Experience excessive family fun at Toboggan Hill Park in Nelson Bay. Enjoy a toboggan ride, giant maze, rock climbing, bumper cars, mini golf, hot ice skating and jumping castles.
Stock up on camping supplies
Want to go camping with your family? Buy a tent and camping supplies and get away. Here’s a list of camping spots within a three-hour drive of Newcastle.
Once the whole family has bikes, you can get out and explore the many bike trails around Newcastle.
Ride a Segway
Experience the thrill of riding on a self-balancing Segway through Hunter Wetlands with NSW Segway. Ride your Segway through pine forest, over boardwalks and around diverse bush tracks and trails in Hunter Wetlands.
Buy seed packets & gardening supplies
Give the gift of nature and get your kids planting and caring for a garden. You can choose from a variety of seeds including herbs, veggies or flowers.
Support your local sports
Buy a board game
Enjoy some unplugged fun and play some board games. You can host a game night for your family or invite other families along to participate. Here’s a list of family-friendly board games for your next game night.
Attend a kids concert
Enjoy a National Parks membership
Explore some of NSW’s most beautiful national parks. Motor vehicle entry fees are charged at 45 of over 870 NSW national parks and reserves including Myall Lakes National Park, Munmorah State Conservation Area, Sydney Harbour National Park and Hat Head National Park. You can buy an annual pass which makes it affordable to revisit national parks.
Buy an Oxfam Unwrapped gift card
Buy your kids a charity gift card in their name from Oxfam Unwrapped which goes to help a family in another country. You can buy a variety of animals including goats, chickens and pigs as well as clean water, veggie garden and seeds.
Go to the movies
Get some new beach stuff
If your family loves going to the beach, buy beach gear to make
Learn how to surf as a family
Spot dolphins and whales
Enjoy Hunter Valley Gardens all year round
Buy a family annual pass for Hunter Valley Gardens and enjoy events like Christmas Lights Spectacular, Snow Time in the Garden and more.
Take a walking tour of Newcastle
Explore the eclectic streets between the harbour and the sea, find hidden houses, art and laneways, and check out exciting local businesses with a 2 1/2 hour, easy 2 kilometre Newcastle Afoot walking tour. Your family will discover Newcastle’s most interesting hidden historic sites and architecture, beautiful beaches, and new creative hubs.
Help someone else
Through the organisation Kiva, your child can fund a small
Give the gift of music
Buy a guitar, keyboard or ukulele and give your kids the opportunity to make music. Or pay for a term of music lessons at Hive Kids Creative Studios, Julie Logan Music or the University of Newcastle’s Music Conservatorium with classes in Newcastle and Maitland.
Expression through art
If your kids enjoy art and crafts, give them a gift certificate for a term of art classes at Art Mania Studio, ART House Studios or Hive Kids Creative Studios. If you have school-aged kids, use your Creative Kids Voucher to get $100 off the cost.
Enjoy a high tea with your Kids
Organise an adventure backpack
Get kids excited about an outdoor adventure by assembling an adventure backpack. This can include binoculars, magnifying glass, hardcover journal and pencils, a compass and a map.
Discover science together
Enjoy some family time playing with STEM science kits. National Geographic has a variety of fun kits that you can enjoy with kids. They range from dinosaur fossils, glow in the dark crystals, volcano science kit and slime kits.
Buy a few frisbees and play Frisbee Golf
Name & spot a star at a private viewing
For a truly memorable gift, name a star. Sydney Observatory lets you name a star visible in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.
Getaway with a hotel gift card
Gift a stay in a hotel. Have your kids help choose a destination for your mini-break or book a staycation at a local hotel like the Novotel Newcastle Beach, Rydges Newcastle, Noah’s on the Beach or Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
Adopt an animal
No, we’re not talking about adopting an actual animal but rather adopting an endangered animal through Taronga Zoo. You can adopt Sumatran tigers, Tasmanian devils, Asian elephants, meerkats, red pandas and bilbies for an entire year. All adoption packages include a welcome letter, personalised adoption certificate, animal fact sheet and quarterly email updates about your adopted animal.
Join a toy library
Instead of buying lots of toys for your kids, buy a membership to a toy library and let kids borrow toys all year long. You can purchase a gift certificate for the Newcastle & Hunter Toy Library.
Buy a children’s book by a local author
The Newcastle area is full of talented local kids book authors and illustrators. Buy a book from a local and get them to sign it at a book launch or kids book event. It’s a great treat for kids to meet the person who wrote or illustrated the book.
Learn a new sport
Get on an animal
Get up high
For an epic adventure, go on a hot air balloon ride with Balloon Aloft in the Hunter Valley. It’s suitable for kids 7 and up who are at least 120cm so they are able to see out of the basket.
Try a new activity. Buy a gift voucher for an activity your child hasn’t tried before like mini-golf at Holey Moley Charlestown Square or Newcastle Supa Putt, go-karting, laser tag at STRIKE, Ninja Parc, Revolution or Inflatable World. Lots of fun and plenty of memories to be made.
Have some fun at a shopping centre
Buy an Entertainment Pass from Charlestown Square and enjoy a day of fun for a fraction of the cost. Enjoy a movie, bowling, food, games and more. Westfield Kotara offer Rooftop Kids Pass which provides a movie, ice cream, arcade games and a burger.
Explore a museum
Buy an annual MAAS Membership for entry and member benefits at Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory and Museums Discovery Centre.
It also gives you reciprocal benefits at partner institutions across Australia and New Zealand
Explore different Merlin attractions
A Merlin Annual pass which gives entry to all of the following attractions – SEA LIFE Aquarium in Sydney and Melbourne, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye, and Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures.
Do something iconic in Sydney
Do BridgeClimb in Sydney (ages 8 and up and 1.2 metres in height or taller) and see Sydney from the top of the Harbour Bridge. Or go behind the scenes on a Junior Adventure Tour at the Sydney Opera House. You can even catch a kids show at the Sydney Opera House.
Stay overnight at a zoo
Experience the Kids Room at Swissotel Sydney
For an unforgettable experience, treat your kids to the Kids Room at Swissotel Sydney. Kids get to enjoy a specially decorated room with bedding, toys and books. It’s the ultimate family weekend away combining a fun kids stay and a luxurious parents’ retreat. Read Newy with Kids review of the Kids Room.
If you book an experience, tell them you found it on Newy with Kids!
Do you want experiences specifically for teenagers, check out our 40+ Activities for Teenagers Around Newcastle guide.
Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.