When you give experiences instead of gifts, you give the gift that keeps giving. Swapping gifts for experiences will cure the clutter while making a lasting impression on your child. Children will not remember the toy you gave them, but the memory of an experience will last forever.
We have all been there, in the aftermath of Christmas morning or our child’s birthday party, with a pile of “new” things to add to our home. To multiply the never-ending mound of toys our children already own. Once you find a place for all the new birthday “things”, then it’s time for the holidays. You know the ads start running right after Halloween, advertising the new “it” toy of the holiday season and your child feels this toy will complete them. Then, when summer rolls around, you find their “it” toy in the yard sale bin in your garage. WHAT A WASTE!
It’s a vicious cycle that leads to clutter, and clutter leads to STRESS! Giving experiences, instead of gifts, can change all of that! The family-bonding time and memories are worth so much more than that toy they will soon forget.
Top 10 Experiences Instead of Gifts For Kids
- Show Tickets – This year for Christmas, I am taking my girls to see the The Nutcracker by the Russian Ballet. Many universities and performing arts schools have different discounted productions throughout the year.
- Indoor Activity Center – Last year, we gave yearly passes to the local Children’s Museum. This year, we are getting passes to the Trampoline park. When you give passes, you save money in the long-run and you are more inclined to go because you have a pass. You can always find great deals on local fun places at Groupon.
- Volunteering – This is something that gives to someone else, while teaching your child about compassion and giving back to the community.
- A Subscription Box – Out of all subscription boxes we have tried, our favorite has been Little Passports. Not only can kids experience traveling around the world, but they also offer science experiment boxes as well. No matter what box, they always give the gift of adventure.
- Music Lessons – This year we are giving our younger daughter piano lessons with a local music teacher and this Interactive Teaching Piano Keyboard to practice with.
- Coupon Book – When money is tight, making a coupon book can be an amazing gift that only costs time. Coupons could be for baking your favorite treat together, at home spa day, camping in the backyard, or even making slime together. Kids love when you really take the time to do an activity that really interests them.
- Cooking, Art or Craft Class – These can be found at different places and many times they are free. Check your local YMCA, Culinary school, and local craft stores like Micheal’s or Hobby Lobby. We have taken full advantage of these classes as enrichment for our homeschooling.
- Concert or Sporting Event – My kids love going to baseball games, because it is such a fun family experience.
- New Games for a weekly “Family Game Night”– Of course we love the classics like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders but for a really fun time that will keep the kids entertained, our favorites are Ker Plunk!, Mouse Trap, HedBanz, Toilet Trouble, Pie Face Showdown, and Egged On.
- Bucket-list Experience – If there is no regards to the cost, then do something extraordinary with your kids. Take a hot-air balloon ride, go horseback riding on the beach, or go swimming with dolphins. Any experience that they have dreamed of, will be a priceless gift they will never forget.
Swapping gifts for experiences is better because experiences provide your children with enjoyable opportunities to learn, travel, and become more compassionate toward the world around them. Just pay attention to what your kid will love doing, seeing, or learning, and then opening the door to those possibilities. Get your family and friends on board with giving experiences as well. Here are some great tips on how to request experiences instead of gifts from loved ones. Remember, experiences give them a great story to tell because it will be always be a cherished memory.
Giving Experiences Instead of Gifts: What our Family Learned
Lately, I have tried to embrace more of a minimalist lifestyle. We are far from getting there, but we are taking steps everyday. I decided for our children’s birthdays we would only give them experiences. Not only would this decrease clutter, but it would save so much money. I made this announcement to my family on New Year’s Day. You know, because that’s the day we always feel inspired to change for the better. Well, the kiddo’s were skeptical. In fact, the idea of not unwrapping anything sounded like a punishment. I explained there still could be things to unwrap, like movie tickets or a gift-card to the aquarium, but they would not be getting “things”, instead we would be making MEMORIES! Yeah, they still didn’t seem totally on board, but they were intrigued.
Our middle child came to us first with her idea, she asked to go see the Titanic Museum. I thought that was a great idea. Not only was it educational, but it was somewhere we all would enjoy. The closest one was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge is a happening place, a big tourist attraction. As I started researching it, I found many fun activities our family would enjoy. I figured if we were already traveling to Pigeon Forge, why not take in all we could. So that was exactly what we did.
From riding the Ober Aerial Tram in Gatlinburg, to visiting Ripley’s Aquarium, to eating at the dinner show of Dolly’s Stampede, we barely left a stone unturned in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. Which was great! It was an EXPERIENCE! In fact, we all experienced things we never had before. We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp, we had family portraits made at Old Time Photos, WE HAD A BLAST!
We also spent way too much money! In fact, we spent more than what we usually spend for all three of their birthdays combined, and we were only one experience down. That’s when it hit me that this wasn’t exactly going as planned. In fact, when I had made this announcement to my family, I pictured us going horseback riding or hiking. Just one SMALL experience per a child. However, in the midst of my planning, I had forgotten part of the purpose was to save money.
How in the world was I going to be able to tone down the next two experiences? My goodness, we couldn’t afford two more trips like that this year. So, I explained that I had made the trip much more than what it was supposed to be. After all, she only asked to go to a museum. Turns out, my kids were good with that. They had a great time, and thankfully didn’t expect a whole vacation as their experience.
So they got it, they understood the whole time, even though I had totally misconstrued it. So the next two experiences were much more local and more affordable. My oldest daughter wanted to go “glamping” in the mountains, and our little one wanted to ride the Polar Express Train. We all had fun. It didn’t have to be an all out vacation jam packed with activities. We accomplished our purpose, WE MADE LASTING MEMORIES.
I asked my children what they learned from our year of experiences and their answers were exactly what I had hoped they would be. They said they got something to cherish in their hearts forever, instead of something to display in their rooms and that they would choose it over a gift any day. So, that settles it. Experiences are where it’s at. Children are not going to remember that Barbie you got them for their 7th birthday, but they will remember when you took them fishing. Furthermore, I’ve learned just like they don’t need a multitude of “things’, they also don’t need tons of experiences, they just need memorable ones.
Have you ever swapped gifts for experiences?