Des Moines Experience Gift Guide


As moms, I think we can agree that all the stuff that comes with the holidays can be overwhelming! This year we encourage you to create meaningful experiences for your kids and family while supporting local businesses.

Here at Des Moines Mom, we’ve put together a few ideas for purchasing local experience-based gifts. Enjoy and shop local!


Experience Gifts

Looking to create more memories and have less stuff? Here’s a few suggestions!

Give the Gift of Goldfish! This holiday season, give a gift that will last a lifetime. Kids learn water safety skills while having fun, making friends, and building confidence in Goldfish Swim School Urbandale’s fun, tropical environment and 90-degree pool. Parents get the peace of mind of knowing that kids are learning an essential life skill. There’s no better gift than that!  


Visit Goldfish Swim School Urbandale to purchase your holiday package while supplies last. Families can choose from 3 and 6-month swim lesson packages that also include a towel and your choice of other limited-edition Goldfish retail items.

Ted Lare Design Build Garden Center

experience gifts

Do you know someone who is interested growing all the things? A class kit from Ted Lare Garden Center is a great way to improve your garden skills and design abilities. From wreaths and herb garden kits to planters, there is sure to be something of interest for all ages and abilities. 

Cooking with Wallace Centers of Iowa

experience gifts

Join Chef Katie for a virtual cooking class with Wallace Centers of Iowa! She emails you recipes, a grocery and equipment list, and a Zoom link and helpful tips on getting connected. Gather all the ingredients and tools in your own kitchen, then watch while Katie demonstrates as you work. 

Blank Park Zoo STEM Box


These kits from Blank Park Zoo are perfect for your animal-loving kid! Each box includes a fun STEM project to encourage imagination and creativity and is shipped every other month.

Science Center of Iowa

experience gifts

Spark curiosity through exploration, discovery, and learning disguised as play. Explore the Science Center of Iowa’s themed experience platforms full of hands-on exhibits, live interactive programs and demonstrations, engaging planetarium shows, and so much more!

AR Workshop Ankeny

experience gifts
Bring the fun and beauty of AR Workshop Ankeny projects to your home! Kits include detailed instructions, all materials, and pro tips to create a finished masterpiece. Check out a kit to see what is inside as there are lots of skill and design options. 

HoneyNut Home

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Maker Kits from HoneyNut Home are perfect for crafty kids. The projects are easy enough to do in under an hour and make great gifts! Choose from seasonal designs and more. 

Climb Iowa

experience gifts

Get the adventurer on your list a gift card to Climb Iowa. They offer an amazing experience at either of their locations for first-time climbers. The professional staff will be more than happy to assist you in taking the first step into the world of climbing. 

UrbanAir Adventure Park

Urban Air
Let your active kids jump and climb to their heart’s content with a monthly membership for unlimited visits to UrbanAir Adventure Park in Ankeny. Get ready to let ’em fly and enjoy endless play and big savings!

Rainbow of the Heartland

rainbow playsystems

Give the gift of outdoor play this holiday season. Rainbow Play Systems are a fun way for your kids to play by allowing your kids’ imaginations to run wild. Kids can climb, swing, and slide on Rainbow Play System.

PepperHarrow Farm

experience gifts

PepperHarrow Farm is a 20-acre farm is located in Winterset, Iowa, cozied amongst the covered bridges of Madison County. The owners cultivate local farm fresh flowers and host a variety of wonderful classes and workshops from cupcake making to floral design! 


experience gifts

From cross stitch kits to macrame or unicorn sewing kits, Artfull has something for all levels of makers in your life! They hold workshops and events as well as a variety of take-home art products and DIY kits.

Tent Ventures

experience gifts

Bring the outdoor camping experience inside (especially in these cold Iowa winters!) with Tent Ventures. Take your sleepover to the next level with a tent adventure! They deliver, set up, style, and collect everything you need from a-frame tents and wooden tables; creating a simple, fuss-free gathering!

What are your favorite places to shop for local experience gifts in Des Moines? 

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Kara originally hails from northwest Iowa where she met her husband, Lance, through a 4-H fashion show. After a decade of living in central Iowa, Kara is still figuring out which way is north. Wearing the hat of “wife, mommy, employee, chef, ribbon tie-er and family calendar organizer,” Kara knows a bit about juggling life and work. Kara became a boy-mom in June of 2011 to Lucan and a girl-mom to Gracelyn in December of 2014. Most days you can find her mixing up metaphors and oversharing life’s moments via social media. Kara enjoys yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, sewing in straight lines and singing along to musicals. A spender by nature, but thrifty by necessity, Kara is always in hunt of a bargain. She’s an active member of Northpoint Church and a resident of Grimes. Her vision for life includes “doing the best we can with what God gives us.”


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