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Give the Gift of Experiences

Hooray! Christmas is coming! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Before you run out to all the Holiday sales and fill your cart with toys and gifts for your kids, I want to share some ideas with you. Ideas for experience based gifts. WHAT?!

Chrystal, what do you mean and why do we want that?!

You know how every year after opening presents, you suddenly feel like you’re being buried alive in toys? Or after the Christmas excitement wears off, you look around, and all you see is clutter? And when you see clutter, your crazy comes out a bit and you start storming the playroom with garbage bags? Or you start asking yourself why you bought your son his 11th and 12th RC Car? No?! Is it just me?! I really don’t think I’m alone in this! We want our kids to have everything, so we give it to them! And then we slowly go insane because of all the stuff!

Enter me, saving your sanity! Let me share with you the joy of giving the gift of experiences! Each year we give regular presents of toys, video games, books, etc. but we also give our kids one or two gifts that are experiences instead! Not only does it help with the crazy toy clutter, but it also helps us to make memories as a family taking part in the experiences we’ve given! And I’ve come up with some ways to make opening an experience gift on Christmas eve or Christmas day, just as fun as opening a new toy.

Below I’ve listed out a few examples of experiences that we’ve given as gifts or plan to give this year along with some fun ways to give them so that they are also fun to unwrap! I hope that these examples help to get you thinking of experiences you can give to your kids too! Or perhaps it gives you the permission you’ve been subconsciously needing to start gifting experiences rather than things to your family. I bet after reading you will have a TON of ideas for experience gifts, and if that’s the case, please share with the rest of us! We need to stick together!

So let’s just get right to the point. Below are a few ideas of experience gifts along with how to wrap them up to make them fun to open! Enjoy!

Movie Theater Tickets

Going to the movie theater is a treat in our house. It’s fun and exciting! And frankly can be a little bit expensive so it’s not something we do often. So as you can imagine, it’s a pretty special thing to get a gift card to go to the movies at the theater! AND going to the movie theater creates fun, family memories!

Make it fun to open:

Buy a box of each child’s favorite movie theater candy and tape the gift card/tickets to the box. Wrap it up and boom - fun to open! The candy makes it a real treat (excuse the pun) to open!

One Night Hotel Stay

Hotels are magical places for kids. Let’s be honest, they are kind of magical for us adults too - no cleaning, cooking, or laundry! So why not get your family a one night stay at a local hotel with a swimming pool or indoor waterpark?! Genius, right!? Our family stays at the local Holiday Inn Express one night each winter, and the kids LOVE it! The hotel is literally two minutes drive from our house, we grab pjs and toothbrushes and go! The winters here get cold and sometimes boring, so we find heading to the waterpark at the Holiday Inn Express is just what the kids need to use their pent up energy and have some fun!

Make it fun to open:

For this gift you could buy each kid a new beach towel, pool goggles, swimsuits, an overnight bag/suitcase, or something similar. Now remember, the point of experience gifts is to eliminate the excess, so don’t buy something just to buy it, make sure it’s something they need and will use. You can include a brochure from the hotel, or print out a note to let them know that this gift includes a one night stay at ___insert hotel here___ for a night of pizza and swimming! Our kids go absolutely NUTS for this gift!

Nail Salon Gift Card or Spa Night Basket

My daughter is in that weird stage for gifts. A little too old for toys, but not really into getting clothes for Christmas either. Anyone else in this stage and feel the pain and struggle of what to get them?? Insert the Nail Salon experience! The really cool thing about this gift experience is that you can use it as a time to hang out and bond with your daughter, because you should definitely join her to get your nails done too! Win Win!

Make it fun to open:

To wrap this beauty under the tree, simply add a cute nail polish to keep it fun to open. Not into the nail salon but still like the idea? Try the Spa Night Basket route instead!

If going to the nail salon isn’t really your thing, how about putting together an at home spa night basket instead? Another win win because you can still participate in the fun! Some things you could include in the basket are face sheet masks, eye gels/eye masks, a bathrobe, scrunchie or headband to hold back their hair, nail polish, a candle, any other type of scrub, etc. This could be super fun to put together AND really fun to have a night in with your daughter!

Holiday Light Tour Limo Ride

Most towns and cities have limo companies that specialize in Holiday Light tours this time of year. How magical is that?! Family time, with hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, Christmas music, and Christmas lights! Hello Norman Rockwell painting! And in general, kids are mesmerized by limos and will feel like superstars riding around in one!

Make it fun to open:

So how can we make this one fun to open? EASY! How about a cute new, holiday travel coffee/hot cocoa mug and a hot cocoa bomb? Attach a note that says the mug and hot cocoa will be used on such and such a date while you take a limo ride to look at Holiday lights! We have not done this gift yet, but I think it sounds amazing!

Let’s be honest, kids like to open presents so it can be hard to do ALL experience gifts. But replacing one or two physical gifts with an experience gift will help you to create memories with your kids, while also keeping the toy room overflow to a minimum!

Now, what to do about the gifts from Grandparents...

It’s no secret, Grandma and Grandpa LOVE to spoil their grandkids. And it can be really hard to ask them not to, or to get them on the experience vs toys train. Talk with them before the holiday season and let them know that you really want them to create memories versus getting more stuff. Here is a list of suggested things you could ask Grandma and Grandpa to gift your kiddos, rather than a truck full of toys.

  • Family zoo membership

  • Membership to a local kid museum

  • Family cooking class

  • Waterpark or Amusement park tickets

  • Age and activity appropriate subscription box (there are a ton to choose from and it’s a gift they get each month all year long!)

  • Weekend at Grandma and Grandpa’s house (maybe they plan a fun, kids only weekend with grandparents)

The list goes on and on. Think of things your kids enjoy and places they love to visit but don’t often get to do. Ask for family memberships, gift cards, subscriptions, etc. to those places and activities. The cool thing with gifts like this is that oftentimes the Grandparents can ALSO be listed on the membership. That way they can enjoy spending time and making memories with their grandkids too!

I hope you have an amazing, beautiful, memory filled Holiday season with your family! And if you’ve been trying to figure out how to lay off the toys a bit, I hope that these ideas were helpful and spurred some of your own! Please please please, share with the rest of us if you’ve come up with some experience gifts of your own!

Stay Wild!

xoxo - Chrystal


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