9 Experiences To Give As Gifts

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As the holidays have just pasted, we reflected on the busyness of the season and all the new memories made with family and friends.  This made us think about what we gave and got for gifts and what gifts we cherished the most.  To this point, it was the time spent with our family and friends, the laughs, hugs, and community we share that we cherish.

So why is it we spend so much time looking for “stuff” to give that will generally just clutter someone’s living space and be discarded in time? Why don’t we give more gifts of experience and our time?  Because at the end of the day is it really that gift you received that you enjoyed most of the holiday?…..(maybe if you really don’t like your family)

Since we are a family of six living off of one income, we have tried to make it a point to ask for gifts of “experiences” as much as possible. We do this for a couple of reasons, we have limited space for more toys and a limited budget to spend on these experiences, especially as we get closer to paying off all our debt. (There will be more to share about our journey of working to become debt-free soon!)

We want their childhood filled full of memories of going places, trying new things, seeing something for the first time, and having those memories with the family that loves them most. We have tossed so many bags of broken, discarded toys into the trash or have donated them. Will they cherish the memories and playing with plastic toys or will they value the time that their family poured into them? I have gotten some push-back from people feeling like they won’t be excited to receive their “gift” of something non-traditional, but this is when I suggest they do it with them. The kids love sharing memories with other family members, they (and we as parents) treasure the times Mamaw and Papaw take them to the movies or when Papa goes to the indoor waterpark with us!

Here is a list of 9 great experiences that we have been given, loved or plan on doing soon:

  1. swim lessons – Gift cards to the local rec center pay for the kids’ swim lessons.
  2. family zoo pass – Our family of 6 can get a zoo pass for the year for $100 with unlimited trips and fun. We go almost weekly when the weather is nice!
  3. movie tickets – The kids have loved the times their grandparents take them to the movies.
  4. overnight at an indoor water park – We went to Great Wolf Lodge with one set of the grandparents and having four adults for four kids in the water park was perfect, everyone enjoyed themselves and we weren’t stressed about having to watch all four of them in the water just the two of us.
  5. train ride – As a gift, we got one of the kids’ grandmas a gift certificate for all of us to ride the train and spend the day together. She loved the day with the kids and times like this are what we live for.
  6. city park and rec gift certificates – Can be used to get into the city pools, putt-putt golf, batting cages, etc.
  7. dance lessons – We plan on signing Gigi up for dance lessons soon after her 3rd birthday that is coming up.
  8. tickets to an event – We were recently given tickets to a MarvelLive show and the boys loved it, this is something we wouldn’t normally get the chance to do with them.
  9. exploring new places – Some of our favorite times together as a family are exploring new places. We are surrounded by metroparks and the kids love hiking!

What are some experiences you have given or received as gifts? We are always looking for something new and fun to gift the kids!








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20 thoughts on “9 Experiences To Give As Gifts”

  1. I love these ideas! My son’s birthday is right after Christmas and the last thing he needs is another toy. He’s been wanting to go to Great Wolf Lodge, so this might be the perfect plan! Thanks!!

    1. Yes, we loved it there and have plans to go back! It was perfect when the weather was still cold and we needed to get away.

  2. These are great ideas! I don’t have children but I can still relate this to myself and my husband. Actually – yesterday was my mom’s birthday. Instead of getting her “things” , I gave her a gift certificate for a pedicure and lunch… with ME! We can have quality time together which rarely happens anymore with having such busy schedules.

    1. I love the gift for your mom, I’m finding our parents are starting to really enjoy the experience gifts as well!

  3. I love these ideas! We are already getting rid of toys from Christmas because there’s just too much!! I am going to ask for some of these for Christmas next year!

    1. The toys are overwhelming and we find the kids play with the same few and tend to forget about a lot of them!

  4. I love these ideas! My four children are now age 17 and over, but experiences trump toys every time. When my kids now sit back and talk of old times, they always bring up experiences over toys. Now, I will use these ideas for my little Granddaughter. At 3 she is always up for new experiences with Nana!

    1. Yes, it’s funny, my kids love getting out to do things with us, but they love when their grandparents take them even more. It is extra special to them!

  5. I love this. I think (and write) a lot about living an ethical lifestyle, and the less stuff, more experiences is definitely ethical, not to mention way more memorable and fun!

  6. I love this idea! We too have started doing the same thing. For our sons birthday just Jan 2nd we took him and just our family and grandma to a pizza place that has an arcade and laser tag. We had pizza and he had fun. Our daughter just asked to go to a Christian youth conference for her birthday instead of having a party or gifts. 😉 Happy Heart!

  7. I couldn’t love this more! Such great ideas. Especially as I sit here staring at the toys that were played with once or twice on Christmas and haven’t been touched since! Totally going to focus on experiences from now on! Thank you!

    1. My kids have a hard time even giving people ideas for gifts, so we found this is a great alternative instead of being given something that will just sit and not be played with. 🙂

  8. I love this idea and have been trying to convert my family for a while. My parents did this with my brother and I and I have so many memories! On the other hand, I barely remember the toys that I got growing up.
    I am sure your kids will remember the experiences they had as a family growing up. I wish your family a year full of adventures!

  9. We could not agree more! We do enjoy buying gifts for our kids, but I find myself constantly coaxing them to “play with their toys”! I just took Luke the other day to decorate cupcakes at a local cupcake shop and it was so much fun! He enjoyed it and I got pictures to remember it! Love your list of ideas!

    1. Thanks Michelle! Making those memories with them is so much more fun and those were some awesome photos!

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