What do my kids want for Christmas? What do they need?
It’s not the latest toy.
(We don’t even know what the hottest toy is this holiday season.)
It’s not ANY toy.
It’s not more clothes.
They have plenty. And, for once, their drawers aren’t overflowing and I’d like to keep it that way.
We have enough shoes. And boots. And snow gear (true, we’re not in a snow zone, but last year’s stuff still fits.)
What they’re most interested in isn’t easy to wrap and put under the tree, and that’s okay.
Have you figured it out yet?
They want experiences.
They want to go out and do things. They want people to spend time with them. They absolutely LOVE it when family and friends come over to see them. They want your attention. They want to have fun. They love it when people take the time to truly listen to them and spend time with them. They want experiences. Things they’ll remember long after the wrapping paper has been recycled and the tree has been taken down.
Here are 11 experience gift ideas to get you started:
- How about a gift certificate to a local play place?
- You can take them, meet us there, or I’ll take them, remind them who’s idea and gift it was, and send you pictures or a video of them having fun.
- Or a day trip?
- Same as above. The kids are interested in just about anything. If you think it’d be fun, odds are, they’ll enjoy it too.
- Or taking them out for lunch? (call it a restaurant and they’ll be thrilled)
- Lessons or a class?
- They both LOVE to learn and would enjoy lessons or classes.
- This extends the gift over the course of a month and allows them to do something new.
- Money to go to the open gyms?
- Most don’t seem to have passes, but the littles enjoy going to the gymnastics places and playing for a few hours. See #1.
- Train ride?
- Animal rehabilitation facility? Aquarium? Zoo?
- Better yet, help them find things to donate (or take them shopping to buy stuff specifically for the animal shelter or other non-profit), and let the kids do the donating and see the animals/facility they’re helping.
- Coming over and baking cookies with them or doing an experiment?
- Cookies not your thing? That’s ok. They love to help with just about anything in the kitchen, as long as it doesn’t involve onions or avocados. 🙂
- Need activity ideas? There are lots of fun activities in The Academy, which would also make a great gift.
- Inviting them over to do your favorite craft project or activity from when you were a kid (or bringing it to our house works too)?
- Recreating one of your favorite childhood pastimes to do with them?
- For me, this would include a trip to the lake. So, if I wanted to wrap something for them, I could wrap sunscreen, a bathing suit, sun hat, etc. with a note that says, “when the weather warms up, we’ll head to the lake for the day.”
- Taking them to the park?
- Yes, this is free, but they really like it. And, it’s about the interaction and attention from you, not about how much money it costs. Plus, you can always pair it with a snack or a smoothie on the way home.
Raising Grateful and Appreciative Children
We’re really trying our best to raise grateful children who are appreciative and respectful. It’s hard to do in a society that values things over people 11 months out of the year, and it seems to be more true in our state than others. And, while we’re extremely fortunate that we have everything we need and then some, our children don’t “want” for much, so they don’t understand what it’s like to do without. This is nice, as not everything needs to be learned or experienced before the age of 4, but does make teaching things like being thankful and gratitude more difficult.
And, if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t want more stuff. More stuff means more things to put away. More things to keep track of. Do you remember what you got for Christmas or from grandma when you were 3? How about when you were 5?
I know I don’t. I remember that one year, my brother and I received matching flashlights. I’m not sure if that was from Santa, our parents, or someone else. I don’t remember opening them up on Christmas morning, but I do remember all the fun we had with the flashlights. The same goes for our matching tricycles, which I think I remember more of because my mom has a really cute picture of us on them. 🙂
Yes, those are “things,” but it’s what we did with them that I remember. The memories. And, there aren’t many other “things” I received as a kid that I remember much about. But, I do remember the memories. Camping, trips to the lake, learning to tie my shoe on the beach, walking the dog around the block and tricking her when she got old by only walking part way and crossing the street, playing hide and seek, backyard soccer games…
Memories matter. Things don’t.
Give children (and their families!) the gift of memories and experiences this holiday season. Parents will thank you because it’s one less thing for them to plan on doing (and may even result in an hour or two “off”!), and it’s nice to see our children having fun with others, experiencing new things.
Still reading and wondering what to get Mom or Dad?
The same thing! Use the list above and turn it into a family gift. Or, do things that will save Mom and Dad time or make their days a little easier.
- Gift certificates for dinner (pizza, local restaurants that deliver, etc.)
- Offer to come over and play with the kids for a few hours so Mom can do something for herself or Mom and Dad can go out on a date.
- Pedicure gift certificate with a note saying you’ll watch the kids.
- “An afternoon off” gift certificate with a note saying you’ll take the kids to the park (or watch them for her).
- Trust me, more time off is something all moms want. Just make it easy for her to “redeem.” You could also take Mom out for drinks or out to lunch if you can find someone to watch her kids or coordinate with Dad.
- At home date/movie night (DVD + snacks)
- Errand Companion. Running errands and getting kids in and out of car seats gets old really quick. Join Mom for the day. Just by being there, you’ll make it easier by giving the kids someone else to talk to, Mom some adult conversations, and just make things a little more fun and interesting for everyone.
- Family photos
- Gift certificate somewhere, or grab your camera and join them on a trip to the park or a walk through the woods and snap away. What mom doesn’t want more photos of her kids?
- Frozen meals
- I know this one doesn’t sound glamorous, but when it’s been a long day, and the last thing on Mom’s mind is cooking dinner, having something already done that she can simply pop into the oven or microwave is a lifesaver.
- Instead of frozen meals, pair pantry meals together, like pasta and sauce, beans and taco shells, oatmeal and toppings, etc. Still quick and easy but doesn’t take up precious freezer space (and WAY easier to wrap).
- Not sure what they eat? Make your gift the gift of time- come over and watch the kids and help her prepare some freezer meals.
Family gift ideas
- Game night (board game(s) and snacks)
- Movie night (family friendly movie or a gift certificate to buy/rent one and snacks)
- Paint night (paints, paint brushes and canvases/paper). Include tips for keeping it clean!
- Memberships or passes
- Don’t forget that young children typically only last 1-3 hours at places, so frequent trips are ok.
- Passes to local festivals or fairs (even if they’re not until later in the year) are also nice
- Shows and performances (make sure it’s family friendly with the content, showtimes, and driving distance)
- Grow your own Garden (seeds, dirt, and pots. Start with herbs if you’re unsure of their gardening habits or desires)
- Afternoon Art (any art supplies).
- Park Play (balls, snacks, sunscreen, bubbles, and stick it all in a bag. You could also include a few cars (fun for rolling down slides or driving along the play structure) or sand toys if there’s a place for kids to dig and a mini-first aid kit in case of boo-boos.) Include a note to add diapers and wipes and to leave the bag in the car so that they’re always ready for the park.
Well, there you have it. 25 gift ideas that aren’t about more THINGS. 25 ideas that help create experiences and make memories. Sometimes we know there’s a need or we just really want to buy something the children can play with. If that’s the case, you’d be interested in this post, which is a list of toys and things my children enjoy and play with often. Read the Gift Guide for 2 and 3 year olds here.