Few gifts and more experiences this Christmas

At the end of this blog is a list of experience gift ideas for your family this year.

So, Matt and I have joined in on the idea of giving the gift of experiences this year and I’m pretty excited about it.  Let me start by saying, I’m not talking about not giving my kids gifts at all or making them give everything they have to the poor.  I’m not saying those aren’t awesome things people do, or that it’s no teaching something amazing to their children, it just feels a little too Mommy Dearest to me personally (and if you don’t know what that means, we can’t be friends).

This year, the kids couldn’t even think of what they wanted for their birthdays…seriously.  So one of their presents is going to be something we do together as a family.  Actually, it’s going to be some thing-s we do together as a family.

Matt and I have always put a limit on the amount of gifts we give our kids at Christmas. We want our kids to partake in the joy of the giving season, but we don’t want a massive greed fest that outshines our focus on what this season is really all about.  Plus our kids live in a middle class family in America, they get all of their needs met and most of their wants on a continual basis.

Generally we give a gift that everyone opens on Christmas eve, which is always new PJ’s, robes, slippers or a combination there of.  On Christmas Santa (yes SANTA, and we let our kids watch Harry Potter too…) fills stockings and leaves one unwrapped present.  It’s usually their biggest gift, and it’s purely a gift of want.  Then they get 3 additional presents from mom and dad.  One is always something they need, usually clothes, and always more than one item of clothing.  So some might not call it one gift, but it’s all in one box.  The second gift is usually a useful one, but not necessarily a need.  This will the the first year since Britt was 7 that she doesn’t want her 2nd gift to be a pair of custom cons.  But then again, her feet haven’t grown since the 3rd grade.  The third gift is just an outlandish splurge.  This year the third gift will become the experience gift.  We almost planned a trip, but we came up with the idea too last minute.  I think we’ll do it next year, and their other gifts will be things needed for the amazing trip.

I should say that I also put back the kids allowance at the first few months of the school year so that they won’t blow it, and they spend their own money on buying gifts for each other and any friends they want to buy for.  Britt used some of her saved money from her summer job this year to buy an additional gift for grandma just from her, not wanting to go in on the family gift.

At this point in the blog, some of you are thinking this all sounds crazy.  But we wanted our kids to experience the gift of giving, to dole out their own money and give from what they have.  We wanted them to have gratefulness for what they receive, not to be overwhelmed with being given so much that they are just moving on to the next package.  And, if you are one of my friends, you’ve seen Christmas pics of my kids surrounded by their tons of gifts because they each have at least three sets of grandparents, so if your worried they aren’t getting spoiled enough…they are fine.

I’m so excited about the fun things we’ll do together this Christmas and how it will bring us closer together, that I think it’s going to become a new staple in the Bedlington home.  I’m already imagining the experience gifts we’ll give over the coming years.  If your interested in joining in on this new craze, some of my favorite ideas can be found below.

Experience ideas:

  1. A class.  This is great for families of any age.  It could be an art class, cooking, pottery, glass blowing, dance, etc.
  2. Tickets.  Take your family to a show, a game, and museum, or even get season passes to last the whole year long.
  3. Hot air balloon ride.  We almost did this one.  So fun!
  4. Take a trip.  This can be by plane, train, or automobile.  But how fun is it if you wake up on Christmas day somewhere ready for an adventure.  Or if your family got to open a box on Christmas morning that said “pack your bags”.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.
  5. Take a local tour, there are things all over that you didn’t even know existed.  A food and wine tour or a vineyard tour is a great idea for those family members over 21 and they are literally everywhere.
  6. A togetherness basket.  Ok, I just made that up.  But it could be a basket of ingredients for a baking day.  Paints and canvases for an art day.  S’mores stuff and new sleeping bags for a backyard camp out.  A bottle of wine, a movie, and a gift card for your favorite take out.  You get the idea.

These are great ideas for parents to their kids, grand parents for their grandchildren, or for a couple.  Seriously, what woman doesn’t love a fun surprise and a bit of adventure?


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