The gift-giving season is upon us, and perhaps your kids are making lists of all the things they want you to buy them. Sure, they’re things they want desperately now, but a few days after Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever holiday your family is celebrating, those things often have very little meaning. They’re forgotten, hidden somewhere in a pile, shoved in some closet or toy box.
This year, why not make an experience they’ll remember part of the giving? Bonus points if it’s a shared experience that allows you and them some undivided attention and quality time.
Here are a few ideas for you.
For the budding chef
Check out kids’ cooking classes. You’ll find series classes, one-time classes and camps at Kids Kitchen, txkidskitchen.com; Bake Austin, bakeaustin.com; and Foodie Kids, foodie-kids.com. Central Market also has classes you can take together, as well as classes for teens, centralmarket.com/cooking-school.
For the artist
Check out classes at the Art Garage, theartgarageaustin.com; Painting With a Twist, paintingwithatwist.com; Cafe Monet, cafemonet.org; and Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria, thecontemporaryaustin.org.
For the theater connoisseur
This is a great time to buy tickets to Austin’s theater offerings for the whole family.
At the Paramount Theatre: "Magic Tree House: Showtime with Shakespeare," 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12; and "Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!)" 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. March 1. austintheatre.org
At Zach Theatre: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," Jan. 18-March 14; "Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch," Feb. 29-April 4; "The Sound of Music," July 15-Sept. 6. zachtheatre.org
At Bass Concert Hall: "Wild Kratts Live 2.0," 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 18; "Aladdin," March 11-22. texasperformingarts.org
At Georgetown Palace Theatre: "Peter Pan," January 31-March 1; "Pinocchio," April 28-May 15. georgetownpalace.com
At H-E-B Center: "Trolls Live," Jan. 31-Feb. 2; "Paw Patrol Live," March 31-April 1; "Greater Austin Comic Con," June 20-21. hebcenter.com
At the Long Center: "PJ Masks Live: Save the Day," 6 p.m. Jan. 17; "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live: Neighbor Day," 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 17; "Scooby-Doo and the Lost City of Gold," 2 p.m. May 30 and 1 p.m. May 31. thelongcenter.org
For the curious
Become a member of a local museum for the year and get member benefits, plus free or reduced entry anytime you come. Some museums to consider: the Thinkery, thinkeryaustin.org; the Bullock Texas State History Museum, thestoryoftexas.com; the Blanton Museum of Art, blantonmuseum.org; the Contemporary Austin, thecontemporaryaustin.org; Umlauf Museum and Sculpture Park, umlaufsculpture.org; the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, wildflower.org; the Science Mill, sciencemill.org.
For the adventurer
Is there something your kid has always wanted to do? Think about tickets to try it out or a yearly pass. Some suggestions:
Zip lining at Zip Lost Pines, ziplostpines.com; Lake Travis Zipline Adventures, ziplaketravis.com; and Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, cypressvalleycanopytours.com.
Fly in another way at iFly indoor sky diving, iflyworld.com/austin.
Go rock climbing at Austin Rock Climbing Gym, austinrockgym.com; Austin Bouldering Project, austinboulderingproject.com; or Crux Climbing Center, cruxclimbingcenter.com, to name a few.
Buckle up for go-karting at K1, k1speed.com; or Austin Parks & Pizza, austinparks.com.
For those who love entertainment
Play games at Pinballz, pinballzarcade.com; Gattitown, mrgattispizza.com; Chuck E. Cheese, chuckecheese.com; or Austin Parks & Pizza, austinparks.com.
Buy gift cards to local movie theaters like Alamo Drafthouse, drafthouse.org; Cinemark, cinemark.com; or Regal Theaters, regmovies.com, or buy gift cards to fandango.com. Movies coming out that your kids might want to see include "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" later this month; the live-action "Mula" in March; "Trolls World Tour" in April; "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" in May; "Artemis Fowl" in May; and "Minions: The Rise of Gru" in July.
Plan ahead to attend MagicFest, Jan. 10-12, at the Austin Convention Center, austinconventioncenter.com.
Buy tickets to see "123 Andrés – A Bilingual Concert for Kids," 10 a.m. Feb. 1-2, at the Scottish Rite Theater, scottishritetheater.org.
For the champion of summer boredom
Now is the time to start thinking about summer camps. Seriously. Many camps already have registration open. If not, most of them will be opening registration in January, or February at the latest. Start exploring what’s out there with our summer camp guide: campguide.austin360.com.
If there’s a camp that your kid has always wanted to attend, make it a holiday present. Or, for older kids, if their school/band/scout troop/extracurricular activity is taking a trip this spring, summer or fall, put money toward that as their present (and encourage family members to do so as well).