Have you ever thought about giving experiences as gifts rather than toys?
Does this sound familiar? You’re grateful for all the love shown to your children at Christmas, though this time of year, that tends to come in the form of gifts of toys. The kids open one thing and want to play with it, but there’s still a stack of other gifts to be opened. You bring home bags and bags from each celebration you attend. When the dust settles after all the celebrating, you don’t know where to put all the new toys and other things your kids have received.
We’ve found ourselves in that boat the past few years.
Our kids haven’t needed a lot going into Christmas and yet a lot of new things (toys mostly) come into the house over Christmastime. It becomes overwhelming for us and for them. They have a harder time knowing what to play with and where things are, the more toys we have in the house.
We wanted to start to change the focus of Christmas. Make it a bit simpler. Feel a bit less stress on how many gifts to buy and wrap. Have more togetherness and quality time. Have gifts be a fun piece of it but not the main focus. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, making memories, and feeling joy and love. We wanted to get back to those areas of focus.
Each year we’ve progressively changed a piece or two of how gifts were done, to simplify further. Last year we began asking for more experiences for gifts, rather than physical items. Our family received a zoo membership and the kids were able to get a lot of joy out of it, all through the year. As parents, we only gave them each 4 gifts last year. We followed the rhyme: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
This year we’ve decided to try a new idea – experiences as gifts from us as well.
Each child will get 2 physical gifts. Other than that, none of the gifts will be tangible. Instead, we are going to plan experiences we can do as a family to make memories together in the new year. We will plan 10-12 experiences or “family dates”. That way we can do them about once a month. I’m going to make a card about each one with a photo and description of what the date is. Each card will be put in a box with tissue paper and wrapped up as a gift. So, they will still each have 6-7 gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. Depending on how they like this way of gifting, we may do fewer toy gifts next year but wanted to ease into the idea this year and see how it goes.
Here are some ideas for experiences that we’re planning or have thought about. Each one could be embellished with a lunch or dinner out. You could do less expensive versions or more expensive versions. It’s about planning intentional fun times as a family all through the year, that will give all of you positive memories. By the way, don’t tell our kids about this since Christmas hasn’t come yet – it’s a surprise!
Family Date Ideas
- Going to a local indoor amusement park
- A day at the Children’s Museum
- Ice skating
- Have a day where you all do whatever one child wants to do, do the same another time for your other kids
- A day or weekend at an indoor waterpark
- Going to a science museum and omnitheater
- Checking out the latest Disney movie in theaters – this one could be used a few times
- Playing at a splash pad and then going out for ice cream
- Going to a kid-friendly amusement park
- Swimming at an outdoor pool and waterslide
- Having a day at the beach
- A cabin weekend
- Going to a baseball game
- Visiting an apple orchard
- Going bowling
- Baking Christmas Cookies
Giving experiences for gifts can be a fun way to stretch the gifting of Christmas through the whole year. They get to open a present and also get to experience the fun of it later. I’m excited to do this because it will foster family togetherness all year. My hope is we can move more and more in the direction of experiences over toys each year. It helps Christmas feel less materialistic, it makes for less stress of seeking out the perfect toys, and your house will not feel an influx of new toys each December. Most importantly though, for us, we are changing our focus from the presents to deeper more rich aspects of Christmas. Would you ever try this? Let me know over on Instagram.
I’ll let you know how it goes and if the kids like it.
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Are you skeptical about the idea of gifting fewer toys? Check out this article on why giving your kids fewer toys at Christmas makes them happier: Motherly Article