53+ Ways to Give Experience Gifts Instead of Stuff This Year (Even Last Minute)

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » 53+ Ways to Give Experience Gifts Instead of Stuff This Year (Even Last Minute)

In the midst of holiday gift-giving, I can’t help but think how well-intentioned gifts can lead to more stress, for both the giver and the receiver. My family has really embraced a minimal lifestyle, so we decided to give experience gifts instead of material ones as often as we could. After a few years of trial and error, this is now the norm… and the results are amazing!

An experience gift can be easy to arrange and thoughtful, even if it’s last minute. They’re also rewarding to both the giver and receiver. Going to the movies as a family, taking a painting class, or learning to scuba dive are priceless memories or skills that last a lifetime.

Do We Have Too Much Stuff?

Joshua Becker is my favorite expert on the topic of clutter and minimalism (see my interview with him here). He shares some sobering trends on his Becoming Minimalist blog.

Consider this:

  • The average American home has over 300,000 items in it.
  • There are over 50,000 storage facilities nationwide. This is the fastest-growing real estate segment!
  • At least 4 in 10 of us have a storage unit to store our excess stuff.
  • There are three times more storage facilities in the U.S. than the number of Starbucks!
  • There’s enough physical space for every man, woman, and child in America to stand in U.S. storage facilities—all at the same time!

Why Give Experiences and Not Stuff?

Those staggering statistics wouldn’t worry me if it seemed the excess stuff improved our lives in some way. But that isn’t the case. Statistically, we’re not happy. Over 54% of us report being overwhelmed with clutter, and 78% of us have no idea how to overcome it! There are tons of topics on organizing and decluttering out there to help us deal with all of our stuff and the stress it causes us.

Thomas Gilovich, a researcher at Cornell University, spent more than a decade on the subject. He explored why experiences contribute more to happiness than stuff. He found that experiences are a uniting factor. You’re more likely to bond with someone who enjoys the same hobby or has traveled to the same places as you.

Even the anticipation leading up to a family trip, event, or experience has the potential to give happiness. This makes it the gift that keeps on giving! Happiness in anticipation, during the experience, and in the memories. Beats the heck out of a pile of toys you trip over while tucking the kids in at night!

Experience Gifts: The Importance for Kids

Shared family time (even at family dinners) is drastically important for a child’s well-being. Much more important than the toys we give them or the dozens of extracurricular activities we often neglect family time for.

There are lots of reasons to have shared family time and experiences, including:

  • bonding within the family
  • fewer behavioral problems in children
  • a stronger sense of identity and sense of security
  • higher rates of academic success
  • lower rates of violence

These shared experiences can be as simple as time spent together during or preparing meals. Or even while driving or reading stories before bed. Prioritizing shared experiences as gifts helps reduce unwanted material items while fostering family bonding.

53+ Ways to Give Experiences This Year

The average parent spends over $276 per child on toys and gifts each year! And over 40% of Americans are willing to go into debt over Christmas gifts. That just adds to our clutter and stress.

Experience gifts are great because they reduce clutter, give kids something to look forward to, and promote bonding. Yes, they may be more expensive upfront, but the benefits outweigh the cost in the memories made. And sometimes they pay for themselves after one or two visits!

Family Experience Gift Ideas

Bigger experiences, like memberships or vacations, are often family gifts. It’s a fun way to check a few things off of your bucket list. Or try a new activity as a family, ranging from kayaking or rafting to setting up a zipline in the backyard. Feeling adventurous? Schedule a hot air balloon ride!

Season Passes or Memberships

  • Museum Memberships – Look into which local museums offer annual memberships near you. Some even offer discounts for local residents or have programs for kids.
  • Science Center Memberships – Many cities have a children’s museum or science center with an annual pass option. Sometimes these end up costing less than one visit.
  • Orchestra Season Tickets – We have a local orchestra that performs every few months. I found children’s season tickets to be extremely affordable (less than $8 a show). It’s now a fun family activity.
  • Community Theater Tickets – If you have a local theater, buy season tickets. If you can’t buy one for each member of your family, buy two. Parents can go to the more grown-up plays as date nights, and then Mom or Dad can alternate taking the kids for special nights.
  • Sporting Events – Any professional or college teams in your area? Purchase season tickets to your favorite sport. Or if that’s too expensive, buy tickets to one game. My family loves baseball, and it’s been a great outing that lasts all summer.
  • Nature Center Tickets – Check for local nature preserves or nature centers in your area and see if they offer an annual pass. I’ve found these for nature centers, a local cave, and state parks.
  • Local Attraction Season Passes – Any other local attraction with a season pass can be a great gift. Check for other types of museums, historical sites, or local attractions.

Family Activities

  • Camping Tent – Sometimes, a material gift leads to an experience. This tent was a family gift a couple of years ago, and we’ve used it quite a few times. I picked this one because it’s easy to set up!
  • New Family Hobbies – Get the necessary equipment or passes to take up a new family hobby. Try hiking, camping, card games, a sport, or another fun activity.
  • Escape Room – This is an ideal group activity that Mom, Dad, and older kids can do with extended family for some fun quality time. Check to make sure the theme is family-friendly.
  • Be Puzzled – Feeling brave? This 33,600-piece puzzle is the world’s largest. It might take you the whole year to put together and will foster a LOT of family time!
  • Fun Family Outing– You don’t have to go all the way to the Grand Canyon or New York to have a fun family trip. Visit an amusement park, take a local food tour, or plan a family staycation. Remember, looking forward to an experience makes the experience more fun and fosters happiness on its own!
  • Volunteer – Truly a gift that keeps on giving. If your kids are old enough, volunteer at a local food pantry or charity. Give your kids (and yourself) the gift of helping others!
  • Give to Charity – Another favorite in our family. We designate $100 per child, and they decide where to give it. They love choosing gifts like farm animals, fruit trees, or educational supplies for those in need around the world through programs like Food for the Poor.

Best Experience Gifts for Kids

Kids love learning new things or spending time doing their favorite activities. It’s always special to spend one-on-one time with their parents. Experiences are a great way to give them both!

Learn or Perfect a Skill

  • Local Pottery Painting – An absolute favorite with our girls. Our local pottery place has dozens of options to paint, and this has been a fun activity for the kids (and me!).
  • Pottery Making – For older kids, some places offer pottery-making lessons or classes.
  • New Skill – Does your child want to try horseback riding, cooking, sewing, painting, or another similar activity? Give them classes for a new hobby or skill. You can even buy virtual classes through sites like Udemy. Or, to keep costs down, look at your local recreation center, or ask a family member to teach your child. Here are my favorite cooking classes for kids.
  • Rock Climbing – Have a local rock-climbing gym? See if they offer annual passes or pick-up gift certificates for a climbing outing with older kids. Bonus: It’s a great way to get exercise too!
  • Learning Magazine Monthly Subscription – Our kids love getting “real mail” in the mailbox. This is one gift my extended family members often get for them. They look forward to it coming each month and doing the activities.
  • Craft Bucket – One of my favorite Christmas gifts as a child: a basket of craft activities that lasted me all year! My aunt filled a large basket with scissors, paper, glue, string, and every craft supply imaginable. It led to hours of fun for me. My kids love getting these baskets, plus books about how to draw, painting kits, sticker pads, construction paper, and other craft kits.
  • Musical Instrument – A favorite gift one Christmas was a steel drum for my kids. Though I admit, on a couple of especially loud days, I have regretted the idea! This is the one I got, and they’ve loved learning to play it. I also ordered mini musical instrument kits.
  • Music Lessons – Along with their new instrument, you can gift them some music lessons. Piano or guitar lessons are popular, but there’s also violin, harp, and even ukulele!

Active Experiences

  • Local Jump Gym – Another fun activity that helps kids stay active. See if you have a local jump gym or indoor trampoline center and get annual passes or gift cards.
  • Batting Cage Membership – For a child who loves baseball, look for a local batting cage. Some offer year-long memberships or bulk discounts on packages. This is a great way to stay active and have a fun outing together.
  • Bowling or Skate Tickets – If you have a local bowling alley or skating rink, ask about family passes or gift certificates. Roller skating and ice skating are both fun.
  • Every Kid in a Park – If you have a fourth grader, there’s no excuse not to get this one. It’s a free year-long park pass to all the national parks. It provides access to everyone in your immediate family, not just the fourth grader. (Here’s how to get it.)
  • Treasure Hunt – If you’re giving a material gift, make it a fun experience. Instead of wrapping it up, create a scavenger hunt for the child to find the final gift. This is especially fun for a larger gift or experience!
  • Geocaching – Speaking of treasure hunts, geocaching is a fun, free way to go on a treasure hunt with your kids almost anywhere in the world. You can learn more about it here.

Family Time

  • Lunch Dates – Give gift certificates to a favorite breakfast or lunch place to a child and plan a one-on-one date with that child.
  • Movie Tickets – We don’t go to the movies often, but sometimes there are some great family movies coming out around Christmastime.
  • Question Book – My kids all love this Question A Day Book, and it gives us a fun conversation starter each day. Similar is the Little Talk Deck. It has some fun questions to prompt kids to share and leads to some great conversations!
  • Garden Kit – Just like crafts, gardening is a great activity to do with children. If you have a budding gardener (pun intended), wrap up some seeds and gardening supplies and let your child help you garden all year!
  • Movie Night Packages – My children don’t watch much TV, but we love family movie nights. To make it even more fun, I wrap up a new DVD and some healthy snacks for each child to let them “host” the movie night.
  • Game Night Packages – Giving each child one game is a fun way to expand our collection. And they love playing “their game” when we have a game night. Some favorites are Apples to Apples, Tsuro, Uno, Sequence, and basic card games.
  • DIY Kits – My kids enjoy getting the supplies to make DIY items together (like this DIY Christmas garland) or give them as gifts. This paper-making kit was an especially big hit. Bonus: they’re learning new skills too!

Experience Gifts for Dad

Check out this post for ideas of usable, practical gifts that dads will enjoy (and that help them be healthier, sleep better, etc.). In my experience, guys are the toughest to find experience-based gifts for. But here are a few ideas that have been a hit over the years:

  • Home Brewing – For the guy who loves beer, give him an organic (or at least non-GMO) home brewing kit. There are pre-made brewing kits but go to a local homebrew store if possible to find out what supplies and ingredients he’ll need.
  • Sports Tickets to see his favorite teams play can be a big hit. These tend to be more expensive, so you may have to save for a while, but they can make for an amazing and memorable experience!
  • Outdoor Activities – This will vary depending on the guy, but finding outdoor experiences he already loves is a great gift idea. This might be finding time to camp as a family or for him to go hunting, hiking, or playing sports like golf.
  • Scuba Certification – Why not give each other scuba certifications as a gift? Go through the process together and then enjoy a great hobby together.
  • Skydiving – Is your guy adventurous? Skydiving is a ton of fun, and many cities have a local place you can go. They can also do indoor skydiving if they’re not feeling quite as adventurous.

Experience Gifts for Mom

Memes abound online about moms enjoying going to the bathroom alone. Here’s a fun list of material gifts for mom for the perfect gift. But moms also love experiences too!

  • Day Off – One of my favorite gifts ever was a series of “days off” that I didn’t have to cook, clean, or have any household responsibilities (and it included a gift card to go out for coffee!).
  • Painting Session – These sessions are a great way to learn and have fun while being creative. Treat mom to a night of painting, even better if it’s with a few best friends.
  • Wine Tasting – It would be great to get her a trip to Napa or Italy, but not everyone can do that. Instead, arrange an in-home wine tasting. Dry Farm Wine has wine gift boxes that will ship straight to your door.
  • Pampering – All moms can use some pampering! Plus, it’s something mom may only do if it’s a gift. Massages are my personal favorite!
  • Date Nights – A couples getaway or time alone can be tough with kids. Give mom a pre-planned date night and handle all the arrangements, line up a sitter, and make the plans.
  • Craft or Hobby Supplies – Some new yarn, drawing supplies, or even an adult coloring book are all great experience gifts for moms. You can get art supplies here.
  • Meal Kit Subscription – While I love my meal planner app, some days I don’t feel like cooking. For the healthy foodie, I like the meals from Balanced Bites and The Good Kitchen.
  • Nap or Getting to Sleep In – This may be one of the toughest gifts to pull off, but definitely one of the most appreciated. If you can figure out how to do it, she’ll be grateful!
  • Any Family Gifts – Any of the family gifts listed above are also a great option to get for moms. They’ll enjoy the family bonding and the idea of an activity to do with the kids.

Gifts for Grandparents + Extended Family

Often our loved ones don’t need any more material gifts or just really appreciate experiences. I’ve found these to be really popular options with my family members.

  • Day Out with Kids – The kids pick a fun activity to do with grandparents and give it as a gift. It could be something like going out for smoothies, playing at the park, or going to the store to gather ingredients to cook a meal together.
  • Window Garden – Sometimes it’s harder for grandparents to get down in the dirt like they used to. A windowsill garden with herbs is a great way to have flavorful spices all year long and have fun gardening. My kids and I love this countertop version from Aerotop.
  • Memory Book – I love making a photo book with a company like Mixbook that showcases favorite memories with the giftee. Or let your kids make a homemade scrapbook by printing and cutting out pictures and writing captions.
  • Membership Add-Ons – For grandparents who live close by, add them to any of the family memberships listed above. This lets them come for free and spend time with the kids. And as a bonus, you have extra eyes to help with the kids.

Experience Gifts: The Bottom Line

Even if you’ve already purchased gifts this year, consider adding some experiences as well. Or slowly transition to more experience-based gifts. Family time and memories are worth so much more than material gifts.

Have you given experiences instead of gifts in the past? What other suggestions would you add to this list?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


105 responses to “53+ Ways to Give Experience Gifts Instead of Stuff This Year (Even Last Minute)”

  1. Lisa Avatar

    For a couple of years I put a “Family Fun Adventure” passport in our childrens stockings. This homemade card was divided into 12 month squares on one side and what the family fun adventure for each month was on the other side. Some were free, some were local activities, some we traveled some distance for. Movies, swim park, apple festival, nature center, museum, christmas pagent, etc. As each adventure was completed we marked it off on their passport. It was a year long intentional family experience that we looked forward to each month and was so much fun for all of us. Now that we’re grandparents I may revive the adventure card and call it “Awesome Adventures with Grammy and Papa” .

  2. Riss Avatar

    I love this so much. My husband and I have talked about what gift-giving might look like for our future family. All of these are such great ideas. I love the concept of the “4-Gift Rule.” Do you encourage this kind of gift-giving from extended family members or friends? If so, how? Kids wind up with so much “obligatory” gifted junk from well-intended friends or family.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Yes, we tell family that the kids already have enough “stuff” and that it would be more enjoyable for them to go to lunch with a grandparent, or the park, or any number of other activities that they’ll remember for much longer than a cheap plastic made toy that will break in a week…

      1. Martine Avatar

        You are right! and it also works for grandparents, they are delighted when they can spend free time with kids… My babies are 5 and 7 and in behalf of them this year for Grandparents Day I’m going to gave the best gift. I already ordered star from Kingdom of Universe. My dad was physic teacher so we will go to planetarium, and he will learn my kids about sky, stars and space. Then grandchildren will give them their own star… I believe that this memory will last forever in our minds. 🙂

  3. Bonnie Avatar

    Thanks, Katy, for getting the fire built under my imagination! I love Christmastime, with family get-togethers and all the traditions that are so precious; I despise the commercial side, with all the “gimmes” that emerge. It’s really hard not to be caught up in the shopping trap, especially with children making their wishes known…repeatedly! I have been looking for some experiences that I know would bring smiles all year long. My older ones will get certificates for pedicures, and a massage gift certificate for the son-in-law. For the younger ones, I found a Fencing class, only 20 minutes from home, and a pottery shop that offers make-it-yourself sessions! For the grandchildren, gift certificates for a bodywork session (CranioSacral Therapy), and am making each a personalized bath towel. SO, SO much more fun than buying yet ANOTHER battery-powered toy! Keep it up!!

    1. Amber Avatar

      Love, love, love it that you are gifting CST sessions to your grandchildren! What a gift! It is a gift to the child and I hope their parents will notice and appreciate the work as well.

  4. Teresa OH Avatar
    Teresa OH

    One of the ideas we also do that is not related to gift giving but to one of the comments above… when we do go and make a memory… the family knows that we will be getting a Christmas ornament to remember the occasion by…. whether it is the town we went to on vacation or the museum ( and once the kids realized that yes we were going into the gift shop to get the ornament there were no more pleas for gifts for themselves. ) We now have a table top tree that is just our ” travel ” ornaments. So every year the kids get to remember that family vacation or trip to a museum.

    1. Donna Avatar

      We do this too, and it’s been a big hit! We have a memory tree… At this point, nearly all the ornaments on our tree are from major experiences each year, trips we’ve made, ornaments the kids have made, etc. Each child gets a new ornament each year to pour in the tree and they have their own special box they get to use to decorate the tree.
      Each year as we decorate, we remember each wonderful experience. 🙂

  5. Hannah Avatar

    “At the end of the day, we can’t (and shouldn’t) control what extended family chooses to give our children. Personally, I’m very grateful that our family has decided to prioritize experience type gifts as well, but even if they didn’t and decided to still give material gifts, we would welcome these and teach our children to be grateful for these gifts (as the relationship with family is more important than arguing about the gifts)”
    Thank you so much for saying this! I have seen do many people try to dictate, to the point of ruining relationships or creating such hurt feelings, over this issue. I read on one blog, one mom after Christmas at her families & in-laws houses would take any presents that didn’t meet her requirements for what should be given, place them in trash bags, and place them in the trash…at her parents or in-laws home, in front of them!! Yes, I think giving experiences is wonderful and most of us have way too much stuff, but what a horrible lesson we teach our children when we treat family and friends with such an ungrateful spirit & disrespectful actions.

    1. Wendy Avatar

      Exactly! Take it from a family who never received gifts from any extended family because it would be too expensive, we have ten kids, be grateful, so grateful for anything family wants to bless you with!

  6. Teresa Avatar

    The premise of this is great and there are some wonderful ideas here. I do think that the ideas for Dad & Mom are a bit narrow-minded and quite sexist. I mean, outdoor activities and skydiving for dads but date nights and naps for moms? C’mon.

    1. Hannah Avatar

      I know a few young mamma’s who would love to sleep in/ get to take an undisturbed nap for a christmas gift! And my mom would love a date night for christmas .
      I think sexist is a bit quick to judge , Katie posts from a mothers perspective so give her some positive credit.

    2. kate Avatar

      I was thinking the same thing!! Dad gets cool experiences and mom gets to sleep in? Very sexist!

        1. Jane Avatar

          But your partner/spouse should be making sure you get those sleep opportunities and date nights throughout the year. Sleep is great, but it’s not a Christmas gift. As others have already mentioned, it’s a pretty lazy present from a partner.

          Moms deserve fun, adventure, and effort put into their gifts too. I sincerely hope this list gets updated with some exciting options for mom in 2018 (instead of 1950). The kiddo and family ideas were helpful, but the stark contrast between suggestions for mom and dad just made me sad.

    3. Maria Gutierrez Avatar
      Maria Gutierrez

      Oh my god EXACTLY my thoughts. I was literally going through the comments to see if anyone noticed this ridiculous difference between the gifts for mom and dad. Dad gets to skydive, mom gets a “poop in peace” certificate or some crap like
      That. Um, does Dad do NOTHING for the house and kids all year around that you need to get sleep as a stinkin’ christmas gift?!? Lol. Do better.

  7. Andrea Avatar

    Katie, I couldn’t agree with you more and this is an awesome reminder. Even though your preaching to the choir, I often fall into the toy trap. This is a real goal for me to integrate over the next year. This post blew me away. One of my favorites ever. It’s critical actually that we get this. I often feel like a salmon swimming up stream, this post is such a support.

  8. Dan Avatar

    Hi, I’ve enjoyed reading about simplicity over this last year, and love some of the ideas you’ve posted here. Something stuck out to me though…

    the gifts you suggest ‘for mom’ weren’t really what I was expecting! Shouldn’t sleeping in, days off and date nights be something that each partner in a relationship get the chance of? (That’s if you’re fortunate enough to not be raising kids alone.) I would expect that these things would be possible for a guy to appreciate too and I would like to think would fit in to a routine, not saved up for Christmas! The same goes for ‘family gifts’ too – these would no doubt be enjoyed ‘for dad’. And home-brew, sky-diving & sports gifts from the dad’s list could easily find their equivalent on the mom’s list.

    Perhaps this is already the case for you, and I’m just jumping to conclusions, but it jumped out at me that you were suggesting sky-diving experiences for dad and simply requesting sleeping in for yourself… maybe you could treat yourself a bit more – I’m sure (like any parent) you deserve something special every now and then could helpfully promote that for other mothers who read your posts.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Shirley Hall Avatar
      Shirley Hall

      I agree, this mom loves skydiving! Yes, sleeping in is great. Some of us are active and want to have adventures!

  9. Lauren Avatar

    I love your post! I just wrote something similar yesterday with a roundup of links to all the local places for experiences! Here’s to hoping for less stuff! We also are trying the 4 gift ideas too! I’ve seen it on pinterest for several years. Such a great concept!

  10. Rebecca Freeman Avatar
    Rebecca Freeman

    As a yearly Christmas gift, I replace all my son and daughter in laws spices. They both love to cook, and knowing that they have fresh spices on hand is a gift they love.

  11. Jessica Avatar

    I like this post, but wish the gift ideas for mom and dad were more inclusive. I’d love to do something adventurous and hate being pampered. My husband stays home with our son and might like a day off or a night out.

    1. Jennifer Avatar

      I was thinking the same thing. There were great suggestions for Dad’s interests, but not for Mom. I’d hope my family knows some of the experiences that bring me joy (hobbies, preferred foods, favorite music, roller derby season tickets, etc.) beyond not having to do the laundry for one day. My husband and I purchase concert tickets as our gift. Luckily we have similar tastes, but he’s also introduced some new-to-me groups and revealed his deep music nerd roots.

    2. Natalie Avatar

      I thought the same. Why are the dad gifts all fun and the mom ones so boring? The mom ideas are basically self care and family activities…ugh.

    3. Melody Avatar

      I came here to say the same thing. I’ve had this list saved to my favorites for a couple years but wish it would be updated…

  12. Rhiannon Avatar

    This reminds me of what my family put in stockings – something to eat (usually good chocolate, an apple and a clementine), something to wear (like socks!), something to read (like a hoped-for novel) and a something miscellaneous (like a little gift from a relative). It’s a lovely tradition. 🙂

  13. Susannah Avatar

    I really respect you for this. It’s an excellent idea. We do buy gifts for our kids, but we only buy gifts at Christmas and on birthdays. I know a lot of people who buy their kids a toy, a present, or a treat every single time they go somewhere, or everytime their child wants something, and that makes me sad. When I go somewhere with my boys they don’t expect to get anything. That doesn’t mean they never ask for an occasional treat when we are out somewhere, but they do accept my answer without arguing with me or asking again. That being said, there are two huge bins full of toys they never play with (mostly gifts from family). I’ve been trying to work up the courage to go through them and get rid of things, but I just haven’t been able to find the nerve to tackle it. This article makes me want to finally get it out of the way, before Christmas! We are big on experiences in this family too! Lots of hiking and nature exploration, farmers/local markets/teips to the zoo etc. We also do shoeboxes every Christmas for Samaritan’s Purse. This year, other than a visit from Saint Nicholas this Saturday night, and stockings from Santa on Christmas morning, the only gift they are getting is a computer to share. We are ordering the parts, and wrapping them individually so they have something to open, and then they’re going to build the computer with their daddy and me on Christmas Day. So it’s a present yes, but also an experience that they will hopefully never forget.

    1. Maria Avatar

      I can relate to the toys sitting and not being played with. I finally couldn’t stand fighting with my daughter about cleaning her room, so I bit the bullet. It was hard, but the best thing about it was how happy having a clean room made her. She suddenly wanted to play with the toys we kept and was able to keep her room picked up.

      1. Susannah Avatar

        I’ve done it a few times over the years, mostly as they outgrow their toys. They don’t usually with stuff that’s not accessible and too many toys can be overwhelming! My kids really don’t have all that many toys, but I really do need to tackle those two bins, which have become a dumping ground for Lord knows what!

    2. Lesia Avatar

      Hey – as you are thinking about going through your kiddos toys, consider donating them to a local early childhood education program — materials for young children in. Group setting can be very difficult to maintain.

      Our community has options for giving to Salvation Army and other organizations that can “re home” the items to a child who can enjoy them like new .

  14. Karey Avatar

    You can also do things like “adopting” and endangered animal for kids through organizations like WEF. It’s edicational and helps protect wildlife for their generation.

  15. Kris Avatar

    Great article! This shift from “stuff” to “memories” has been documented to be not just a sign of our times, but generational as well. Moving from stuff to memories also seems to bond our families closer together-because it’s shared and enjoyed by all, not just one! I hope it continues, and that we will all consider our family’s separation from materialism to be a step towards total wellness-body, mind and soul.

  16. Jen Avatar

    This was such a great post with so many good ideas! Thank you so much for what you do, your blog has made a huge difference in our lives this past year!

    1. Jacynda Avatar

      I second Jen’s statement! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for for a while! I’ve done my own soul searching when it comes to presents & when family members ask me what I want, it’s simple & practical (slippers, fuzzy socks, etc.)
      My hubby & I don’t have kids yet but I want our lives to be very different from the generation being raised today. Katie, you give me inspiration & hope that things can be different, the kids will like it, & they can enjoy life the way a child should-without an excess of toys!
      I’m currently working as a nanny for 3 lovely & spoiled kids who have WAY too much stuff & simply yearn for their parent’s time & attention. It’s heartbreaking at times, yet they are too old at this point for me to make drastic changes in their lives (after all, I’m only the nanny?)
      I look forward to more posts on your views of raising kids the right way. Way to go, Katie! You’re doing parenting right!

  17. Jacki Avatar

    For years, my parents have been gifting us experiences, which usually means helping to pay for the upcoming summer vacation. The kids never feel like they are deprived by the fewer material items because they start looking forward to the upcoming trip right away.

    This year, we are adopting the 4 present rule for the family, and I am so happy we are. Our only issue is that we have 3 gift-based holidays in December, so trying to cover all the basis can get a little overwhelming. Thankfully, we have been slowly scaling these back year after year.

  18. Samantha Berg Avatar
    Samantha Berg

    Last year we sent all of our nieces and nephews passes to their local iFly (indoor sky diving). The kids LOVED it and we got great pictures of them smiling and flying and they haven’t stopped talking about it from last year. Their parents loved it too. 🙂

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