Give the gift of memories

There comes a time as a parent of a teen (or tween) when toys no longer feature on the letter to Santa and wish lists include expensive items such as gaming consoles or bikes. This can make teens difficult to buy for, but consider embracing this problem as an opportunity. Giving your time, attention and creating memories is a gift that is worth much more than the cost of the experience.
We’ve compiled some ideas for parents and relatives of teens and tweens who are stuck for ideas. Consider giving something meaningful instead of cash or gift vouchers. Granted, most kids love to spend, but the sentiment of giving is sometimes lost as soon as the cash is tucked into their pocket, spent and forgotten.
Remember, Christmas doesn’t have to come from a store. In fact it is more meaningful when it comes from the heart.
Here are some teen and tween-approved “experience gift” ideas you might like to consider this Christmas:

1. Bucket List Gifts
Take your young person to try something they have always wanted to do. Depending of you budget, you could consider:
* Swim with the dolphins (try Sorrento) – and maybe some seals as well. 
* Up close and personal animal encounters (try Werribee Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary)
* Take them on a ride on a tricky Mountain Bike track they love or always wanted to try
* If they are a foodie, visit funky inner-city cafe, a sushi train restaurant or book a cooking class for you both
* Behind-the-scenes tours are available at the MCG
* Explore art in many styles from graffiti spotting down Melbourne laneways to art galleries or exhibitions

2. Adrenaline Gifts
If the teen in your life is brave and likes challenge (or likes to think they do), consider these teen-approved adventure gifts like:
* Swim with Sharks (City): 14 years olds and over can swim with sharks and stingrays at the Melbourne Aquarium
* A Jet Boat ride (try St Kilda or Phillip Island): just like the shot-over jets in New Zealand, you can now experience these exhilarating rides in Melbourne
* The Edge at Eureka Tower (City): this is a glass box jutting off the side of Eureka Tower that goes clear so that you can see all the way to street below. Once your teen is over their nerves, it makes for excellent bragging rights. They even take your photo inside for proof. 
* High Ropes Courses (try Belgrave or Lorne): from tweens to adults, these are both challenging and fun 
* The Melbourne Eye (Docklands): this Ferris wheel may seem sedate and boring, but we can assure you it is not. Plus, it gives great Instagram-worthy material for your teen. Make sure they take their device.
* Water park fun (try Geelong or Gumbuya Park at Tynong): this is a great way to cater for all levels of bravery with the range of water slides and other rides at these summer-friendly water parks. 
* Indoor Skydiving (try Essendon): a great way to experience skydiving without jumping out of a plane!
* Escape room experiences: you can find many of these all over Melbourne now at varying levels of difficulty 
* Drive a car under-age (Sandown): treat your teen to a driving experience before they even get their learner’s permit.

3. Stylish Gifts
Most young people have some aspect of their appearance they love. Maybe they don’t give a toss about their hair, but they might be dying for a pair of cool shoes or a new piece of clothing. Perhaps they have been waiting for the green light from mum and dad to get their hair dyed or their ears pierced. Consider being the relative that gives this memorable gift. Depending on your budget, consider a trip to get your nails, hair or shopping spree. Follow it up with a treat of their choosing at a cafe nearby. Ask them questions and listen to their answers.

4. Group Gifts
Perhaps you have 2 grand kids or 3 nieces. Give the gift of a group trip. Perhaps take them all out for a day together. Consider a festival, stage show, the ballet, music concert, cooking classes or even group surfing lessons.

5. Big Memory Gifts
Forget present all together this year and take all of your kids or grand kids for weekend in the city or by the beach with all the bells and whistles. Choose a day of sightseeing with their choice of lunch or room service and a movie marathon back at your accommodation.