It’s that time of year again. Christmas lights are everywhere and the tree is filling your home with cheer and happiness, hopefully. But it is DOWN TO THE WIRE and you JUST CAN’T think of a good present for your family, friend or loved one. What to do?
My NEW favorite type of present is experiences. And they make a GREAT last minute gift since you can often buy what you want online and it doesn’t have to be shipped. Lately we have decided to buy less “stuff” and more activities. Activities that we can do as a family, TOGETHER. Things that bring us memories and things that last longer than it takes for the trash guy to come get the wrappings.
Here are three key elements to giving experiences:
- It doesn’t have to be grand. Last year we gave all the kids a cruise with our friends which was a big deal! The cruise was to take place in
January and not right away, however. But this year I am going to make it simpler. We are getting season passes to the aquarium locally that we hardly ever get to visit. Then we will also go see movies in the BIG theater with those awesome luxury loungers. We never splurge on stuff like that and the kids will love it. I might even let them buy popcorn from the theater!
- Make the present a surprise! Don’t tell the kids, maybe don’t even tell your spouse! Talk to grandma about helping you or a friend if you need help. I can’t tell you how hard it was to keep the secret from my kids, but the looks on their faces when they found out was priceless.
- Present it in a fun way. Presents are fun all wrapped in a bow, but maybe try a scavenger hunt? Maybe give them several presents that all give clues about the final gift. For example, I have bought my kids all new swimsuits and sandals for some of our trips. I have also created little books that shows a clue on each page. The kids have to look through the book ONE page at a time, all together so that they can figure it out together. My brother surprised his kids with Disneyland and didn’t tell them until they were AT THE AIRPORT! What kind of fun things could you come up with to lengthen the surprise?
Why give experiences?
- Kids are young and they rarely remember the things they get each year at Christmas, but they remember the places they went and the things they did. Especially if it was very unusual and out of their regular routine. My kids talk about going back on a cruise almost every day. They keep trying to negotiate with us parents on what they can do to get to go again. (My response is to get a job, but they don’t like that answer)
A few years ago it really HIT ME HARD that my kids are growing up and soon I will have one moving out to go to college. Pretty soon I will have an empty nest and I will look back and wonder what happened to the time! I already wonder when I think about where all my tiny babies went. I knew that I wanted to start making some serious memories before my oldest, a junior in high school, graduates. My husband and I decided that we want to give our kids a vacation every year for Christmas. We have done it in years past and my kids love it! They have even tried to guess what trip we are going on this year.
- My home is so full of STUFF that I just can’t fit it all. And each Christmas we get more. And then even more for each birthday, Easter, Halloween, Independence Day and all those other holidays. We somehow build up more stuff than we need, very easily. And because of all that stuff, my kids
don’t appreciate what they have. They can’t clean their rooms well and they only have a short attention span for any new item. Especially since it
- won’t be long before they get another new thing to distract them. Stuff is the hardest battle at my house.
- Memories are something we can all cherish. Parents and children alike all love looking back and talking about how much fun we had on our experiences. We can laugh about all the things that went wrong. And remind ourselves how much we still love each other. As a couple is it nice to have time away from all the noise and distraction of real life to reconnect. Every couple needs time together, talking and getting to know each other more. Even with the kids around it is a great time to take a break from it all.
Experiences are my favorite type of present now. They can be bought last minute usually and they don’t require a ton of wrapping paper.
What presents have you given to your family that were not “tangible”?