As I anticipate all the joy of the holiday season … I also internally cringe at the overwhelming amount of stuff my kids receive this time of year. Don’t get me wrong — I am appreciative of family and friends who seek to see my kids’ eyes light up, and I am the queen of over-the-top holiday magic — but as the years go by, I’ve learned the most precious gifts are those that encourage time together. And that don’t take up room in our already-cramped closets.
Gift kids (and grandparents!) a unique experience, membership, camp or class this holiday season with ideas from local organizations in these pages, grouped by interest.
Classes and camps for kids: Encourage a burgeoning tween or teen artist with studio school classes at Oklahoma Contemporary. Classes are available in 4- or 8-week sessions and explore a variety of art-making techniques, from mixed media and ceramics to sewing and drawing. For younger artists, ages 5 to 12, gift a week at Camp Contemporary, offering creative summertime and school break camps exploring traditional art as well as DJing and performance arts. Call or visit the front desk to purchase a gift certificate.
Performances for the family: Share the joy of music! OKC Philharmonic puts on three children’s concerts per season featuring movie tunes, classics and popular songs played by the orchestra. Bonus: before each show, check out the Instrument Playground, where kids can play instruments with the help of volunteers, as well as hands-on activities from community partners. A three-concert subscription is $24 per person, and single tickets are $9.
At the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts in Stillwater, all ages are invited to wiggle, dance and sing along for their specially-curated family shows. Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie starring Indigo Blume features New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander bringing two of his beloved children’s books to the stage in this musical. The show is Saturday, March 11, 2023, and tickets are $20.
Opt for a pre-holiday gift experience by enjoying OKC Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The beloved performance with live music from the OKC Philharmonic and Canterbury Voices features all new choreography this season. Enjoy this holiday spectacular at the Civic Center Music Hall between Dec. 10 and 18. A sensory-friendly performance is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $30.
Grandparent gift: Memberships to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art start at $60 for an individual and include free admission and other perks; $100 dual memberships also include free admission to 1,100+ museums in North America. Bonus: Kids 17 and under always get in free to OKCMOA, so this gift doubles as special time for grandparent and grandkid fun throughout the year.
Freebie: Plan a family day at Oklahoma Contemporary, where admission is always free!
Memberships & events for families: If your child loves animals, OKC Zoo memberships are perfect for gifting, with an easy “Give as a Gift” option available online. Annual family memberships are $120 and include free admission for two adults and up to four kids.
Get really wild by gifting an animal encounter at the zoo! Go behind the scenes in a small group setting to learn how caretakers care for each animal. Choose from getting up close and personal with grizzly bears, Galapagos tortoises, Indian rhinos, bison, sea lions or Asian elephants. Experiences are $40+ per person.
For kids who love the science of how things work, gift a membership to SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology, where they can explore 450 skeletons from around the world. An annual family membership is $99 for up to four guests. For ages 16+, check out monthly Forensics Night events, where guests are assigned a mystery case and, through hands-on investigation, learn how forensics anthropologists and law enforcement “read” the features of a human skull to determine facts about the subject. Tickets are $40.
If dinosaurs speak to your child’s love language, a membership to Sam Noble Museum in Norman is a must. Explore 500 million years of Oklahoma’s natural and cultural history, from dinos to our state’s unique biodiversity today. A family membership for two adults and all household children is $45 for the year.
Grandparent gift: If grandma has a pooch with poor manners, gift classes to K9 University. From puppy and obedience classes to behavior curbing lessons and the canine good citizen program, this locally-owned business can help with basic to advanced needs. Bonus: grandparents and grandkids can practice obedience skills with the pup between classes.
Make a difference: Make a donation to a local shelter or nonprofit that cares for animals in honor of your child or grandparent gift recipient. Check out 2022 MetroFamily Family Favorites animal rescue organizations: Oklahoma Humane Society, Pets & People or Second Chance Animal Sanctuary.
Freebie: Spend some quality time together with a furry friend by visiting a Metropolitan Library location hosting the Children Reading to Dogs program.
Little athletes: The Lil’ Kickers program at SoccerCity OKC teaches soccer skills and also encourages teamwork, listening skills, cognitive functions and sportsmanship. Lil’ Kickers is open to ages 18 months to 9 years, and each session is 9 to 12 weeks long for $17
Equestrian enthusiasts: Check out riding lessons or spring break and summer camps at Cadence Equestrian Center. No riding experience is necessary, and lessons and camps include horse care instruction. All incoming students must complete a $65 assessment lesson; super start lesson packages for beginners are available for $500 and include 10 discounted group or private lessons. Group and private lessons are available for $55 to $85, respectively.
Tenacious teens: The Daily Shredd is Oklahoma’s first-of-its-kind indoor skateboard facility that offers a safe, clean environment for children (and adults) to get acclimated to skateboarding or elevate skills through group or one-on-one lessons with skilled instructors. Group lessons are $50 per person; open skate passes are $15.
For the family: Adventure abounds at RIVERSPORT OKC! Gift passes to Winter Glow through Dec. 30, which includes indoor skiing, ice skating, curling and climbing. Passes are $19.99 or $14.99 for youth under 12. Activities are for ages 6 and up; indoor skiers must be at least 8.
Day or seasonal passes for RIVERSPORT’s regular season, March through October, make great gifts, too. Spring, summer and fall adventures include whitewater rafting, tubing, surfing, flatware kayaking, SUP and land adventures like the Sky Trail, Sky Slides, the Rumble Drop, climbing and the Youth Zone. Day passes start at $54.99, seasonal passes start at $199.99 and Youth Zone passes are $9.99. Or purchase passes for individual activities, including Ski OKC, Surf OKC and kids’ adventure camps. Bonus: From Black Friday through Jan. 1, season passes are 50 percent off!
Grandparent gift: OKC Parks offers a number of classes for seniors, from yoga, music and floral arranging to art workshops, woodworking and theatre. Bonus: some classes are open to all ages and make a perfect grandparent-and-grandchild experience, including guided hikes at Martin Park Nature Center, archery, cooking and fishing. Classes range from free to $25.
Freebie: With the fall opening of the new lower section at Scissortail Park, families can now enjoy two basketball courts, a soccer field, a futsal court and four pickleball courts. Lace up your sneakers, grab your gear and head downtown for active family fun.
Top for toddlers through tweens: One of the best spots for kid fun in OKC is Science Museum Oklahoma, where STEAM and science come alive through hands-on activities, indoor play structures and mind-blowing shows. Silver 2 memberships admit two and are $125; Silver 6 admit six and are $185; both options include free/discounted admission to participating Association of Science – Technology Centers throughout the world. Or reserve single-day tickets on a date of your choosing online; tickets are $20.95 for adults and $15.95 for seniors and kids ages 3 through 12.
Trending for teens: Ideal for the artistic, snag an at-home art kit from Factory Obscura. The Fluid Art Kit includes everything your gift recipient needs to make four original paintings. Bonus: each kit includes one voucher for a free kid admission to experience the immersive sensory art world of Factory Obscura. Kits are $35.
Grandparent gift: One of OKC’s newest and most revered attractions is Scissortail Park. Individual memberships start at $40. Bonus: members get free pedal boat rides, admission to the Sky Rink for roller skating and access to member-only events, as well as discounts to other community attractions like Wheeler District and Factory Obscura.
Visit Synesthesia at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art in Norman, where admission is always free. Created by the team at Factory Obscura, Synesthesia is an immersive, interactive art experience exploring color and inviting visitors to open their senses to gently touch, listen, crawl and discover. The exhibit will be on display through summer 2023.
Classes for kids: Edmond Parks and Recreation offers after-school programming for ages 8 through 17 with weekly classes such as theatre, archery, outdoor living and the arts. Programs range from $5 to $100. Through Yukon Parks, kids and teens can enjoy classes indoors and outdoors year-round, starting from $5. OKC, Edmond and Yukon park systems also offer school break and summer camps perfect for gifting.
Take a hike: With 13 miles to explore, Edmond’s Arcadia Lake transports city dwellers to the serenity of nature. For kids who love to hike or bike, gift an annual vehicle pass to provide the whole family year-long opportunities to opt outdoors. Annual passes are $80 (Edmond residents receive a 20 percent discount).
Dreaming of summer: If cold weather gives your summer-loving kid the blues, perk them up with the gift of summer camp. Outdoor fun abounds at the YMCA’s Camp Classen near Davis in southern Oklahoma, where activities for kids ages 6 to 16 include archery, horseback riding, hiking and canoeing. Choose from one- and two-week overnight or day camps.
Grandparent gift: Gardening grandparents will appreciate the gift of a membership to the Myriad Gardens, where they receive free admission to the newly-renovated Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory, plus reciprocal admission to more than 300 public gardens nationwide. Members enjoy free admission to the Myriad Gardens’ popular Children’s Garden Festival in June and Pumpkinville in October (they’ll love taking the grandkids!). Memberships are $45 for individuals, $65 for duo and $85 for family (with additional options available online).
Freebie: OKC Parks hosts free hooked on fishing classes for ages 5 to 15 bi-weekly, in addition to many other free program offerings for kids and families, and Yukon Parks hosts free monthly family fun nights.
Memberships for families: For those who love to learn, memberships to the Oklahoma Historical Society include admission to the Oklahoma History Center as well as OHS sites around the state, including historic homes, military sites and museums. At the Oklahoma History Center, don’t miss the exhibit Launch to Landing, featuring the Skylab 4 Apollo Command Module. Family memberships are $75 and admit eight.
Grandparent gift: Grandparents can visit two of OKC’s top museums with a recently-unveiled dual ticket experience to the newly-opened First Americans Museum and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Or, take your gifting up a notch with an OklaHoma gift set, which includes a gift from each museum store in addition to admission to both. Purchase dual tickets or gift sets at First Americans Museum.
Freebie: Plan a family visit to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, where free admission and family activities are offered every second Saturday of the month for See You Saturdays. Plus, enjoy free admission and activities on Thursdays during the summer as well as during Spring Break and Fall Break programs. This high-tech, interactive museum is ideal for multigenerational fun as kids enjoy the touch screens throughout and parents or grandparents recognize many of the famous Oklahomans featured in the museum.