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How to Give an Experience Instead of a Gift This Holiday Season

Kimberly Fowler
By Kimberly FowlerDecember 13, 2017

Do you want to share a joy-filled Christmas with your family, without over-cluttering or spending? Do you want your gifts this year to represent more than tangible items that will be tossed aside after a few months of use? Do you struggle every holiday season to give your loved ones’ presents they want, while also giving gifts that are meaningful?

Give an Experience Instead of a Gift This Holiday Season

Recent statistics posted by Wellness Mama suggest that we currently “consume twice as many material goods than we did collectively 50 years ago,” yet we are less happy than we were then.

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Studies also suggest that we are overstressed consumers – “54% of us report being overwhelmed with clutter and 78% of us have no idea how to overcome it!”

If this dilemma sounds familiar to you, then you are in luck; it is the most wonderful time of the year… to change it up! This year, why don’t you give the gift of an experience and enjoy spending quality time with your loved ones instead of money on more of the same?

How to Encourage the Grandparent-Grandchild Bond

The Child Development Institute references a study led by Brown University sociologist Gregory Elliott, and published in the Journal of Family Issues, that suggests “adolescents who believe they matter to their families are less likely to threaten or engage in violence against family members.”

The belief that they “matter” is a fundamental key for both children and seniors, and helps foster mental wellness. Parents, grandparents and other influential adults who are fully engaged and share special experiences with a child, help to ensure that:

  • The adult can observe and learn about the child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to better guide them
  • The child feels important and loved
  • The child has a chance to voice their feelings and thoughts
  • The child has an opportunity to model the adult’s behavior

There are benefits for seniors who spend time with their grandchildren, too. Not only do the adult and child develop a stronger bond, but studies show that time spent with grandchildren helps seniors:

  • Improve cognitive skills
  • Live longer lives
  • Reduce the risk of depression
  • Stay active

Unique Experience-Based Gifts

The benefits of giving an experience instead of a material gift are huge.

Consider these unique ideas to take advantage of the above-mentioned benefits:

1. A Family Field Trip

Consider planning a fun and inexpensive outing with a family field trip. A kid-friendly museum, the science center, sporting events and the zoo are all great choices. Alternatively, you can purchase a family pass and plan outings for the whole year. Most public places are wheelchair accessible and have plenty of shady spots for a rest or outdoor picnic, so the whole family – including grandparents and little ones in strollers – can enjoy the outing together!

2. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Planning a day out to a local park or splash pad, or organizing a family camp out at a national park is a great way to spend quality time together while enjoying the great outdoors. Why not consider geo-caching or organize a scavenger hunt? An outdoor experience with fun activities can create life-long memories for adults and children alike.

3. Make a Memory Book

Compile photos of your family’s special moments and milestones into a memory book. Add in admission bracelets from festivals or parks, meaningful quotes or ticket stubs from movies you have seen together. A special gift such as this, that highlights favorite memories, reinforces to both children and seniors that they matter to you and that they are an integral part of the family.

4. Try Something New Together

Try a new activity or take a class together. Websites such as unstuffgifts.com offer oodles of suggestions for unique experiences to share as a family, such as art nights, chef classes, dogsled tours and sailing lessons!

This holiday season, replace more “stuff” with the gift of an experience, and enjoy spending quality time with your family.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

What experiences are you planning on making with your family this holiday season? We’d like to hear your plans and stories in the comments below.

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Kimberly Fowler
Kimberly Fowler
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