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The Gift Experience

I write all the time about simplifying life. Pairing down our belongings. And then comes the holidays. Have you started making your Christmas list yet? It will be here before you know it. I like the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” idea of gift giving. It sets a nice parameter. But here’s a thought.

Don’t buy gifts.

“I’m sorry. WHAT?” you might be thinking. “But I have kids/grandkids/parents/siblings!”

If we’re honest, most of us have enough of what we need, enough to wear, enough to read. That leaves us with the “want” portion of the gift-giving parameter.

At the end of our lives, are we going to remember the gifts from friends and family or the times we spent with them? What if we gave the gift of experience? Ice skating outing? Picnic in the park? A trip to the zoo? A day at the water park or an amusement park? Apple picking? A craft night? A cooking lesson? A night at the theatre or symphony? Really, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. I know you want to have something they can unwrap. If the experience won’t happen in the near future, maybe give a small gift or ornament that relates to the experience gift. That way they will have both the memory and a small memento in the end.

It might take a while for the kids to change gears if you have always given lavishly. You may need to make this change to an experience gift over the course of several years, downsizing each time and explain the change so you can manage expectations.

We all know that Christmas is not about the gifts, and I hate to dispel a Hallmark myth, but it’s not about family either. It’s about Jesus. God’s Son, being born as a lowly babe in a barn for the express purpose of being nailed to a cross for our sins. But He did not stay dead. No, He rose and conquered death so that we, too, may rise and live with Him forever. Now THAT’S an experience gift.

Laura ~ your organizing girlfriend

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Nov 12, 2021

Thanks for the encouragement! This year our kids came up with the parameter that everybody gets just one gift from each giving group (aunt/uncle/cousin, grandparents, etc.).We also talked about giving the gift of experiences, and your examples are excellent. I have sometimes shied away from doing this, because I’m not sure about someone’s schedule, availability, etc. 1DIL suggested that that shouldn’t stop us - give a certificate for the experience and then work out the details later. We’ll see how it goes this year.

Nov 12, 2021
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Hi Karen! Thanks for writing!

I'm so glad to hear your family is on board with simplifying Christmas. The gift certificate for the experience is definitely the way to go. We did this with the grandkids at Great Wolf Lodge right before COVID hit. We kept remarking how glad we were to have had that time together while we still could. We had no idea how life was about to change.

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