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Holiday Gifts for the Grandkids

‘Experience’ is the name of the game when it comes to choosing smart holiday gifts for grandkids

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If your grandchildren have plenty of toys and games, consider giving experiences this year. What children enjoy most is the gift of time with the adults who love them. Pair up a gift card with the promise you’ll take them there this year and you can create memories neither of you will forget.

Here are some suggestions for holiday gifts this year:

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. Tickets start at $5 for kids (free for those 2 and younger). Buy them for all your pre-teen and younger grandchildren for a fun outing. Some teens may also enjoy the zoo; others may not.


Museum Of Science and Technology (MOST) in Armory Square, Syracuse. It offers programming for all ages. While younger kids will go for story time and the hands-on activities, older children and teens will likely enjoy the planetarium and IMAX shows. Tickets start at $10. See the website for the list of discounts.


Billy Beez at Destiny USA will keep little ones through elementary age busy with its 25,000-sq.-ft. indoor play park climbing, hopping and exploring obstacles. Tickets for children aged 1 to 17 are $15.95. As a bonus, its location within Destiny USA can allow “tag team” caregivers to take turns exploring the mall while the children play.


Also at Destiny USA, Wonder Works provides 100 hands-on activities across 40,000 square feet. Tickets start at $7 and are needed per activity, including the Canyon Climb, Wonder Works Adventure, Laser Tag and Sky Types rope course. Wonder Works is perfect for families with children of broad ages.


Family membership with Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville is $40 and allows families access to the center’s many, many educational programs and activities.


Waiting to use tickets to Thunder Island in Fulton can build the anticipation all winter and spring. The park offers a variety of packages, from one-day tickets to the water park ($5.95 for ages 4 and younger; $21.99 for 5 and older) to full season passes ($69) to all-inclusive packages that include mini golf, zipline rides and go-kart rides.   


Also consider giving a gym membership, camp or lessons. If your grandchildren want to get fit, excel in their favorite sport, learn a new skill or improve in playing their instrument, discuss with their parents what you can do to support their interests.

Ask for a Senior Discount

Many of these tickets may be ordered online for easy shopping. Most places offer free admission for those 2 and younger. Some facilities like theme parks offer a “non-rider” entry at a lower cost if you came along only to watch. Of course, ask about a senior discount, since many venues offer this.

Especially if your grandchildren are small, give a small gift along with their gift card so they have something tangible that represents their “real” gift, such as a plush puppet to go with a zoo gift certificate or a sporty water bottle to go with their gym membership certificate. Always ask their parents in advance about experience gifts to ensure that your gift is appropriate.

Photo: Billy Beez at Destiny USA will keep little ones through elementary age busy with its 25,000-sq.-ft. indoor play park climbing, hopping and exploring obstacles. Photo of Deborah Jeanne Sergeant.