Christmas: Give Experiences, Not Gifts

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Part of me has always had an aversion to giving Christmas gifts in my adult years. It has gotten worse over the past few years because I really just was sick of acquiring more “stuff.” It just seems like there is a lack of effort in it, and that’s probably partially my fault.

Think about it. Christmas as an adult isn’t full of very many surprises. What is the first thing you do when you are looking to buy something for Christmas for most of the adults on your list? If you’re anything like me, you always ask the person, “Hey, what do you want for Christmas?’ I responded with “Disney Gift Cards” one year, and while I got a lot of Disney gift cards (which is awesome!), there wasn’t much surprise. However, I maintain that Christmas gift giving can be an amazing thing if you’re really considering what the other person needs/wants.

Along with implementing a grab bag for my family and in laws, another thing I’m focusing on is giving gifts that have real meaning.

And for that, we are focusing on giving experiences rather than gifts for everyone.

One of the things my mom and step dad get every year from my step sister is season tickets to see musicals. This sort of thing is amazing! It is something they can experience, and it enhances their relationship. It also is a great way for them to get out of the house and live! Not that they don’t…they go out more than my wife and I do!

Another example of giving an experience instead of gifts is saving the money everyone in the family would spend on gifts and go on a family vacation instead. This again brings quality to your relationships and allows you to gain new memories instead of just “things” to get excited about for a couple of months and then leave laying around the house to get dusty. Or if someone you know is struggling financially, why not give them money for food or to put toward a small bill? By giving something like that you are allowing them to be truly grateful for what they’re given.

Another option is to take the kids shopping for the less fortunate. You could mention to your kids that you are going to give them one item less for Christmas, and instead, they can go with you and pick a new toy out for a boy or girl who doesn’t have any toys and won’t get any for Christmas. What an experience to display gratitude for what you have and share a spirit of generosity!

Now I know what you may be thinking. I am not talking about no longer giving any type of material gift. After all, a material gift can be an experience in and of itself. Let me give you an example.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever came in the form of classic Disney World attraction posters, courtesy of my wife. I’m a huge Disney fan (especially of Disney World) and I love the old attraction posters that you see when you walk under the train station as you enter the Magic Kingdom. She gave me a pack of Twelve 12 x 18 posters and we’ve been slowly acquiring frames to hang them.

There were a few reasons why this was the perfect gift. First, I had no idea it was coming! Surprise! Secondly, my wife knows me extremely well and got me something she knew I would enjoy. Third, this may have been a “thing” I received but it reminds me of some of the best memories I have made in Disney World, most of them with my wife!

Any type of sentimental gift, whether it is an object or not, can automatically be an experience to the person getting it. Just like with my Disney World posters, it will remind them of what they enjoy.

What are you thoughts on giving experiences instead of gifts? Do you ever get concerned about acquiring more “stuff” like I do?

Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to start a conversation.

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Hey! I’m Tim.
I am an expert budgeter and certified Dave Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach with a passion for teaching you how to manage your money the best way for you. I’ve been around the block with money and now I live to teach others like you and me what I’ve learned. Read more about me.
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