November 22, 2019

We’ve made it to the holiday season, which probably means one of two things. Either you have lists from your kids that are pages long and name every toy or gadget ever advertised. Or, the list just says … “money.” You are left trying to figure out how to balance all the purchases while leaving room for fun and surprise.

A few years ago, I started a new tradition that turned into something wonderful. I stepped away from “stuff” and gave an experience instead. While I thought it would be easy, I found there was a pull to have more “things” under the tree. It felt a bit sad that their presents took less space, which to be honest, wasn’t that much to begin with! I changed my mind pretty quickly, though. The physical things the kids had received sat more or less ignored after a few weeks, but we continue to talk about the experiences to this day.

As the years have passed, I’ve moved further away from things and almost exclusively give experiences. Fortunately, the kids don’t worry about how much is under the tree either. They look forward to—and frequently give hints towards—adventures for the new year.

Here are some ideas that we’ve found successful and might help you in your quest to just the right experience for your kids:

  • Concerts

Some of the most exciting adventures we’ve had are taking a child to see their favorite band in person. Bands these days have really upped their game, so that there’s no way to be bored! The great bonus is that every time you hear one of the songs play after the event, you will automatically be taken back to when you heard it live. You and your kiddo will look at each other, smile, and maybe add in some air drums.

  • Live Events

Similar to concerts, live events offer a unique chance to bond with your children. These would be more tailored to their interests but the possibilities are endless: Sporting events like a pro team in your area or the traveling Harlem Globetrotters, theatre events like touring Broadway shows or local theatre groups, or even races like Monster Jam that make their way around the country.

  • Classes

What a great way to let your kids explore their interests! You can find single time or trial period classes in things like archery, art, horseback riding, or yoga. I find the online deal sites to be a great resource for these types of gifts.

  • Activities

Find a place that is set up for a particular fun activity and plan to spend time there. Consider a trampoline park, laser tag arena, a roller rink, ceramic painting studios, or terrarium planting. Once again, think of what would expand your kids’ interest.

  • Hang Outs

These adventures don’t have to cost you a lot of money. You can get creative and think of ways to be together at home or go on excursions that don’t cost a thing. Go camping. Invent and cook a new favorite recipe. Head to the country, set up a telescope, and hunt down the planets. Go hiking in a new spot and find a waterfall, a cave, or another new sight.

As my kids get older and closer to going off on their own, the time spent together means more and more. I really treasure the unforgettable moments we’ve had through these gifts. And a bonus? The house is a whole lot less cluttered!