The “Experience” Gift You Hadn’t Thought Of

If you’re like most everyone else, you struggle to answer the question “what do you want for Christmas this year?” The same probably goes for your husband, or maybe even your kids! And, if you’re like me, there’s a good chance you’ve even been sucked into clicking on those articles titled “Best Gift Ideas for Moms in 2018”, or “Hottest Toys for 5 Year Olds on Amazon” for ideas. And honestly, although their face might light up for 6.5 seconds when they open it, it’s only a matter of time before that toy is another forgotten piece of plastic at the bottom of the bin.

And that is why more and more families are leaning towards the gift of an “experience”.  But, the challenge may present itself to the San Diego mom, who, like many others, already has a Zoo membership or a SeaWorld Pass. What now? What about for your older child, or your husband? Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered! Below are some of our favorite local experiences, and there is something for everyone on your list to enjoy!

Nolan enjoys his infant swim class

For your Baby:

Gymboree Play & Music classes

Music Classes at Songbirds or Kindermusik

Swim Lessons

Eleanor discovers new skills at Gymboree

For your Toddler:

A membership to an indoor playground such as KidVentures, The Playground, or Funbelievable

Show tickets to Disney on Ice (January 24-27), or Daniel Tiger (March 10)

A membership to the Fleet Science Center or Birch Aquarium 

Concert tickets to Raffi (April 27)

This year’s Disney on Ice show features Moana for the first time!

For your Little Kid:

Junior Science Club at the Fleet

K1 Speedway

A gift card for a trampoline park such as Rockin Jump or Jump Around

Mommy & Me Spa Day

Overnight Adventure on the USS Midway 

Logan and mom enjoy a girls day at the nail salon

For your Big Kid:

iFly Indoor Skydiving

SkyRopes ropes course at Belmont

Flightline Safari at the San Diego Safari Park

Tickets to Monster Jam (January 19th)

Animal encounter at SeaWorld or San Diego Zoo.

Megalodon and the big trucks return to Petco Park on 1/26

For your Family:

Balboa Park Explorer Pass

Boarded, A Pirate Adventure aboard the Californian (December 29th)

Camel rides at Oasis Camel Dairy

Overnight staycation (Big Bear? Idyllwild? Santa Barbara?) in an Airbnb

Tickets to a Gulls Hockey Game

A family date to an Escape Room

Rent a boat for the day, and explore the bay!

My favorite escape room, Steal and Escape, has a new kids Christmas game!

For your Partner/Husband:

Adults Only Roar and Snore at the Safari Park

Axe Throwing

Falconry School

Escape Room

Flying Lessons

Cruise through the Coronado Cays on a Gondola

Date Night Cooking Class at Sur La Table

Bruno takes a flying lesson at Learn to Fly San Diego

So go ahead…fuel a passion, spend quality time together as a family, or create a lifelong memory. Because gifting an experience for Christmas is not only giving them a present, it’s giving them something special to talk about for many years to come.

One of our absolute favorite experiences, is taking the kids to see Disney on Ice. The lights, the familiar music, the fun characters, and the impressive skating is something our whole family enjoys. This season, we are excited to share that with one lucky family, who will win a 4-pack of tickets to see the January 24th showing at the Valley View Casino Center!

To be eligible to win, comment below with your favorite San Diego experience. Who knows, your suggestion may be exactly what another mama is looking for!

Getting While You Give in San Diego

I have a confession. I did not give on Giving Tuesday.

In its 7th year, “Giving Tuesday” encourages those of us who didn’t spend more than we could afford on “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” to give to participating non-profits. It’s a wonderful idea and a global movement that just gets more popular each year.

I especially love when giving is matched, and I’m much more compelled to donate when a match is involved.

All of my favorite charities, museums and non-profit attractions participate in Giving Tuesday. I simply can’t donate money to all of them, but I have found a meaningful way to “give,” while also getting a lot in return.

Family memberships are my favorite way to support San Diego’s amazing membership-based, non-profits. Not only do memberships add to the bottom line of an organization’s budget, having a vibrant, engaged membership base helps the business to thrive.

Our family memberships with the Fleet Science Center, the Museum of Making Music, Pennypickle’s WorkshopLiving Coast Discovery Center, the Salvation Army Kroc Center, Birch AquariumBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, the San Diego Zoo and the New Children’s Museum have benefitted these businesses through:

  • additional tickets purchased by visiting family members when they join us for the day
  • revenue earned when we purchase food, beverages and souvenirs from the shops
  • the positive word-of-mouth we provide that leads to new visitors and members
  • revenue generated from the birthday parties we’ve held at most of these venues
  • the loyalty we feel as members makes it more likely that we donate to fundraising campaigns

As members of these amazing local organizations, I believe that we have received more than we’ve given. From quality family fun, to helping me instill an interest in arts, science and biology in my children, I so am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of these amazing educational non-profits.

Silly Science Fun @ Pennypickle’s Workshop

Some day, when I’m no longer saving for college and paying for hockey, volleyball, art and ukulele lessons, I am sure I will become a bigger giver– on Giving Tuesday and beyond — to these organizations that have meant so much to our family. For now, we show our support by participating in their wonderful programs and sharing our experiences with readers like you.


Happiest of Holidays to you and your family.


PS – don’t forget to ask Santa for a family membership to your favorite non-profit. 🙂

Family Christmas Party

The Parent Connection’s Breakfast with Santa is such a sweet way to kick off the holiday season.

For just $35 per parent/child couple, you’ll enjoy a hot breakfast, a private concert by San Diego’s favorite kids’ band, Hullabaloo, a special visit with Elsa from Frozen, cookie decorating and professional photo with Santa, compliments of Sandra Kay Photography.

Sandra Kay Photography Gives Each Family a Complimentary Photo with Santa!

Make the most of Saturday morning, getting into the holiday spirit while staying out of the crowds and chaos. You’ll leave with a full belly, a warm heart and your professional Santa photo as a memento. Reserve your spot before it’s sold out!

Breakfast With Santa

Saturday, December 8th

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Qualcomm Cafe Q

6455 Lusk Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92121

Adults $20

Children ages 1 and older $15

Babies under age 1 are free