16 Ways to Offer Experiences as Gifts Instead of Things

experiences as gifts

Ways to offer experiences as gifts instead of things is a conversation that needs to be had. I cannot help thinking about the fact that even well-meaning presents eventually cause more anxiety for both the gift giver and the recipient.

As time passed, my husband and I decided to make it a point to give experiences over presents whenever we could. After several decades of trials and failure, this has become practically the norm for us in our family. The results have been incredible!

Even a last-minute experience gift is easy to plan, thoughtful, and rewarding for both the receiver and the giver. Going to the movies together with the family, taking a scuba diving course, or even a home-cooked “spa day” with a restful night by using the remote. These are memories that are priceless or experiences that will last for years.

Make a Gift That Lasts

I’m not saying that it’s not a problem. I am a huge fan of giving gifts. I find myself wrapping and then giving the perfect present to a loved one or a friend.

As a mother, I’m also worried about the aftermath of a gift. The paper and toys scattered all over the floors, persistent mess, kids complaining about the need to wash all their playthings.

Every parent has witnessed at some point that the satisfaction of presents quickly fades, and even the most anticipated. Christmas toys become an effort to clean.

This leads me to my next query.

Are We Drowning in Too Much Stuff?

The awe-inspiring success of the book Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up offers a clue that we might be feeling that we’ve got excessive amounts of things.

We may, in fact, be!

Think about this:

2013 in 2013, in 2013, the L.A. Times reported that the average American home contained more than 300,000 things in it and that there were more than fifty thousand storage facilities in the United States.

One in 10 of us has an area to store all of our extra stuff.

There’s enough space for every single man or woman or child living in America to be able to access U.S. storage facilities–all at the same time!

Does it really matter that we have that many more things than we used to have two generations ago?

Why Don’t We Give Experiences That Aren’t Things?

Many studies have demonstrated that possessions of material value are not the same as happiness. Life experiences are more satisfying than possessions.

A researcher identified as Thomas Gilovich at Cornell University has spent over ten years trying to discover how experiences as gifts can bring happiness more than purchases of material goods.

Together with another researcher, Matthew Killingsworth, he published the findings within The Journal of Psychological Science. This concluded that experiences bring more long-lasting happiness than possessions.

They found that people are less content with purchases over time but more content with experiences. They believe this is because we are accustomed to physical objects. This means that even the most luxurious vehicle or latest smartphone gets used after a period of time, and memories become more cherished as time passes.

Our Rules for Gifts

You may have heard about “the “4-Gift Rule” that some parents adhere to:

They want something. They need something they require, something to put on, something to read.

We have a variant of this focusing on a handful of tangible gifts as well as a few shared experiences. Our children typically receive:

“Want” A material gift. In spite of my preference for experiences, we do receive one present per child that’s specifically something they would like.

Most of the time, these are experiences, such as sewing equipment, as well as that Gorilla Gym that has been an absolute hit in our house for many years. Sometimes, they’re also educational presents like Osmo, the Perplexus puzzle, or large quantities of Legos.

The “Need” Experience-based Gifts every child receives at least one experience present every year, and frequently we purchase them many more experiences-related gifts.

Because family-related experiences are important to us, we view these gifts as a necessity; therefore, we prioritize and plan for these gifts.

“The “Wear” Clothing I’ve made small wardrobes to fit my children, and during the holidays, they usually get one thing they require, such as an updated coat as well as a hiking boot. This could be a fun thing like dress-up outfits even if they don’t really need any new clothes.

“Read”: Memory Books “Read.” Memory Books We attempt to take our children frequently to the library because they can choose several new books without taking up space on the shelves. However, our children do receive different kinds of books to give as a gift.

16 ways to Make Experiences as Gifts this Year

The average family spends more than $250 on each child’s toy and presents every year! Although experience-based gifts may be somewhat more expensive at the beginning, they are more affordable over the long term.

In particular, when we think about that, on average, we’d have to spend more than $1200 on presents for our kids. We’re happy to invest a few hundred dollars for a great membership or an experience that can last for the entire year.

The transition away from traditional gifts was a gradual process for us. We’re always adding items to our ever-growing list of ideas. Every year we make an effort to select the ones that are most appropriate to our current family’s age and preferences.

Maybe one of these recommendations will inspire you to think of that special person who left you with a list!

Family Gifts

Larger memberships and vacations are typically gifts from the family:

Escape Room. These appear all over the place and cost around $15-30 per person. Be sure to verify that the theme is suitable for families.

However, it is a perfect activity for groups. Dad, Mom, and kids older than them can enjoy with the extended family to spend quality time together.

Museum membership looks around for local museums that provide annual memberships. They often offer discounts to local residents or have programs specifically for children. We’ve found some great bargains in local art and historical museums.

Orchestra Season Tickets Season Tickets for Orchestra Although we aren’t in the middle of a city, there is an orchestra in our area that plays every few months.

I called to find out that the season tickets for kids were incredibly inexpensive (less than $8 for a performance). It’s now a family-friendly event that the children love to attend.

Community Theatre Tickets If you have an area theater; you can take your kids to these shows also. This was a major family present last year, and we also received some season tickets.

Presents for Kids

Paint Locally at Home A definite favorite for our girls. Our local pottery store has plenty of options to paint, and it’s been a great activity for our children (and myself!). You can choose painted pieces that aren’t yet painted or buy a gift certificate.

Pottery-making for more advanced youngsters, some sites provide pottery-making classes or lessons.

The sport of rock Climbing Have you got an area rock climbing gym? Find out if they provide annual passes or gift certificates for a climbing outing with older children. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to exercise as well!

Skate or Bowling Tickets They are becoming more difficult to come by; however, if you own a bowling alley in your area or a skating rink, inquire for a family pass or gift certificate.

Treasure Hunt- If you’re giving a tangible gift, Make the gift itself an enjoyable experience. Instead of wrapping the gift in its entirety and wrapping it up, put a clue in the gift and let your child take a guess. 

Presents for Dad

The type of outdoor activities will differ greatly based on the person, but looking for ways to help support his love of the outdoors is a wonderful gift idea. It could be as simple as making time to camp with the family or for him to go on a hike, hunt, or engage in sports.

One year, my hubby and I gave each other Scuba certificates as a present. We went through the process together and got a fantastic activity that we both enjoyed (though it’s not the ideal one for younger children!).

Skydiving’s your man looking for adventure? Skydiving is an incredible amount of fun, and a lot of cities have a place that you can take a trip to.

Presents for Mom

Moms are awash with memes on the internet. They talk about enjoying their pastimes, such as eating meals with a baby on her lap or sleeping on.

These are some practical gifts that any mom will love! Because moms deserve every great thing. Here’s a list of gifts that are material I’ve been awestruck by too.

Tampering, the context of that “motherhood is a lot of tasks” issue, every type of pampering is a great present, and something moms might not be able to do except for gifts. The massage is my favorite!!

The idea of time to yourself can be a challenge with children. So some of my most memorable gifts have been planned date nights where my husband took care of the arrangements, set the sitter, and set the dates.

A nap or getting to sleep in this could be among the most difficult presents to come up with; however, it is one of the best. If you are able to figure out a way to let mom stay in bed for the duration of the day or even take an afternoon nap, she’ll be happy!

Any Family presents any of the family-oriented gifts mentioned above are an excellent option to gift moms since they’ll love the bonding time with the family and the thought of having to engage in a game with their children.

Giving Experiences the Final Line

If you’ve already bought gifts for this year’s holiday, take a look at adding experiences or shifting to more experiential presents over time.

Family time and memories are worth far more than presents. Statistically speaking, giving experiences can help lower stress and strengthen the bond between your family. Here’s more about how I plan the holidays and how I can save my sanity.

Have you thought of giving experiences rather than presents previously? What other ideas would you like to add to this page?



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