It is that time of year again when parents and grandparents everywhere begin to ask the inevitable question, “What do I get them?”
We dwell on this question, stress over this question, and look at the pile of toys and games that our children already have, and question, do they really need anything else? The answer is usually no. No, they do not need anything else at all!
Now hear me say I do not hate toys, and I have no problem buying presents. But I have a problem buying something just for the sake of buying something. What I have found is the newness and novelty of stuff wears off really quickly and then I, like countless other parents around the world, end up purging the toy box multiple times a year.
What if instead of just stuff to clutter closets and toy boxes, this year we gave the gift of experiences? Give them opportunities to explore new things, embrace new challenges, while having fun!
Monthly Envelope Gift of Experiences
Ya’ll, when I found this gem my jaw dropped! The idea this grandma wanted to show was the best gift she could give her grandkids was time with her. She did that by creating 12 envelopes. One for each month of the year and in each envelope was an activity they would do together over the coming year.
One of the most amazing gifts I can give my son is time with his family- not just me, but with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. The people who share a bond with him that toys cannot touch. That is what I encourage those in his life to give time with them. I think of the ways my son can learn from his grandparents, explore new things with cousins, and get special time with his aunts and uncles. Those are memories he will hold, that will carry him, and will solidify their bond, which is what I want for him. To know, that to his family, being with him is the best gift.
One of the coolest gifts my son received was a membership to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He was able to enjoy a full year at both their locations, which involved exhibits, special nights for members, and discounts on camps that he loved during the summer.
The gift of a membership is a great idea because it allows you to give a gift of prolonged experiences, they are not just a one and done thing. They are also great because they allow tailoring to specific interests. My son loves science, so this was great, but kids that love animals a zoo membership is a great gift. Have a child or teen that loves theatre, music, or ballet? Than we can be thankful we live in a city with Jones Hall, TUTS, Hobby Center, and the Houston Ballet. They all offer memberships and ways to help your child explore and embrace their passions.
I will admit I am one of those moms who loves planning trips. From themed shirts, to matching luggage and the spreadsheets, oh the spreadsheets, planning a trip brings me great joy. But it also provides memories for our family. While I love to watch my son get excited opening a toy or game he has been wanting, seeing him enjoying and embracing a trip we have planned for him is so much better. Because he remembers those trips and talks about them nonstop.
Whether it was the trip to Disney World, Dinosaur Valley State Park, South Dakota Badlands, Corpus Christi, or wherever, to my son a trip is time together with us and that is not something that can be bought in a store. So, save the money and take the trips, plan small or big, surprise them with time together and let that be the biggest joy they get.
Subscription boxes for kids are something I wish were a thing when I was growing up. From science to cooking, reading to art, engineering to traveling, kids have ways to engage and explore that were unheard before now. While this is technically something they are getting, it is also a gift of experiences that allows them to build, create, and use their hands and imaginations in new and fun ways.
Some boxes send them outside to explore. Other give them the chance to cook with or for you. Subscription boxes have the potential to open new worlds for kids, because they introduce them to new things with every box. My son has loved Little Passports, KiwiCo, Brave Wilderness Adventure Kits, and Raddish Kids, but there are so many different ones to choose from. One of the great thing about subscription boxes is each offer different levels or ways to purchase. Meaning you do not have to break that bank to be a part of them. A great resource to find the right box for you is here.
The great thing about being a parent is you know your child best. You know what they like and what they do not like, and you know ways to engage them better than anyone. So, this Christmas, think about what will engage them the most. What will propel them to explore something new or start a new hobby?
What experience gifts are you giving this Christmas?