As I write this, it’s less than a week until Christmas. There’s nothing like going to Walmart on Christmas Eve and buying the first pink thing that catches your eye. The third child has a birthday in December: what can I do? For these reasons (too many toys, and um, running out of time), many families are moving towards experience-based gifts and we’ve picked our top ten favourite ideas for Family Fun Calgary, but your imagination is really the limit. Well, your imagination and your budget, of course.

1. Go Wild at the Calgary Zoo

Annual passes are a gift you can use all year and the Calgary Zoo is one of my favourite options. Enjoy a summer day or stay warm in the Rainforest or ENMAX Conservatory in the winter. Plus, an annual pass will get you a discount on ZOOLIGHTS!

2. Splash, Skate, and Play

Membership at one of Calgary’s many recreation centres will offer your family days of fun while keeping active! No matter where you live in the city, you’ll find something near you. If you’re not ready to commit to a membership, the City of Calgary has a fabulous budget option! Check out their $5 stocking stuffer coupons, with loads of savings for kids up to age 17.

3. Calaway Park

Summer will eventually come back and you can be ready for it with Calaway Park Season Passes! This will be your cheapest way to visit Calaway Park this summer, and when rides and entertainment are all included, it makes for an easy summer activity. Plus, you’ll save enough money for lots of mini donuts.

4. Vacation in Your Own City

My kids love sleeping in a hotel, especially if it has a pool. And if the hotel has a waterslide and maybe even free breakfast, they’re even more thrilled. If you’re not going anywhere this winter, plan a night away at a hotel with a pool and a hot tub.

5. Spark Their Imagination!

TELUS Spark is Calgary’s Science Centre and it has something for everyone! Fascinating science demonstrations (explosions!), the Dome Theatre, hands-on fun, the Creative Kids Museum, and an outdoor playground make this a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

6. Tickets, Tickets, and More Tickets

Get tickets to a show! Calgary has amazing options for families, with everything from Storybook Theatre to Calgary Philharmonic Symphony Sundays for Kids to Jubilations Jr. Dinner Theatre. The Mini Pop Kids are also coming to Calgary in March or consider tickets to a sporting event.

7. How the West Was Once

Heritage Park is a wonderful place to wander, explore, picnic, and enjoy a few rides. If you’re not wanting to commit to an annual pass, consider one of their popular special events, like A Day Out With Thomas. We love to stop by with a picnic, revisit a few favourite spots, and take a spin on the Ferris wheel.

8. Head North – West Edmonton Mall & World Waterpark

Every January my kids ask to head to Edmonton and spend a day at an Albertan “beach.” It’s a great treat for them, as they love swimming and waterslides. Of course, there are lots of other activities to do at the West Edmonton Mall, too.

9. Go Play!

Calgary has tons of fun places where you can play and stay warm; these admission tickets are great gifts! Consider laser tag, bowling, mini-golf, or escape rooms. My kids’ new favourite is Injanation, thanks to our last birthday party and they’re dying to try out the Big Fun Play Centre.

10. Restaurant Gift Cards

Depending on how old your kids are, you might be able to cross a Christmas gift off your list and skip cooking for a night! My kids love to eat out and we don’t do it often, so it’s a treat. Even a $10 gift card to Menchies or Dairy Queen makes them happy.

Good luck with the last-minute shopping and Merry Christmas!

Special offer alert: Parks Canada Discovery Passes are on sale until December 31, 2019.