I LOVE gifts! Who doesn't love receiving gifts? They certainly do stir up the happiness flutters in me. But like every other tangible gift received and exposed to every day, appreciation for it gets lost and the gift itself eventually becomes background; it becomes obsolete.
Experiential gifts on the other hand affect us differently. They deliver a different kind of happiness--a more enduring happiness.
- Experiential gifts build anticipation, as opposed to how waiting for a possession can be met with impatience.
- Experiential gifts invite connectedness with people. Being and feeling connected to others generally makes us happier.
- Experiential gifts give us lasting memories that often grow more endearing as time passes.
- Even bad experiences with experiential gifts can give us a good story to talk about later.
This will be our second year of giving experience gifts to our children. We are giving coupons for a fun local activities to do. For us it's a way of modeling appreciation for what we already have and recognizing how happiness cannot be found in acquiring more stuff.
Here's to having less to experience more.
A few questions for Chris about her family's Experiential Gifts tradition:
How did you decide what kinds of experiences to put on the tags?
This year my husband and I randomly chose to give seven gifts that could be experienced in town. All the gifts foster connection, fun, conversation/discussion, and trust.
Our experiential gifts this year are:
- Starbucks date
- Choosing what to have/make for dinner
- Movie theater date
- Sleeping in the den with dad
- Dickie Yo's date
- A trip to Splash
- A trip to either NAAG or Get Air
How do you give the tags?
The tags will be placed in their stockings on Christmas Eve and will be discovered by the kids on Christmas morning.
How did you make the tags?
I found goodie bag tags in the holiday section at Walmart and used those but you could find a group of gift tags at lots of stores, write on them, and then embellish them. I included little drawings of each activity.
Could you share an experience from when you did this last year?
Last year's gift was a bit larger scaled. The kids were 2 and 5 and had no idea what Great Wolf Lodge was, they were simply happy to discover an embellished piece of card stock paper with a hand drawn wolf paw print in their stocking. We also threw in tiny gifts like chapstick and small crafts. We filled Christmas day with crafting, going on a walk along the river path, making Christmas pizza, and drinking hot chocolate. Great Wolf Lodge was a fun four-day family experience the following week, which was followed by a short stay in Portland to play at OMSI, play downtown, and visit the grandparents.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Chris!
We love how this can be scaled up or down in terms of budget or time & how it can be tailored to any experience you'd like to have with your kiddos. We also love how the tags don't have to be super crafty or fancy. They can be, but what's written on them is the important part. Enjoying time together is wonderful!
Some other Experiential Gift ideas we brainstormed:
- Local Dance, Musical or Drama performance
- A local hike
- Crafting at MECCA
- Building at one of the new Lego shops
- Kid's Night, they choose everything including food & activity. If you're brave they could even choose what everyone wears :)
- Puddle splash walk
- Roller Skate Date
- Bring a friend on one of your outings
- Adventure Children's Museum
- A dessert date
Share your own idea in the comments!
We love to hear what you think!