Giving Experiences This Holiday Season

It’s hard not to get caught up in the holiday gift buying hysteria. Although I don’t get many catalogs anymore (thanks partly to Catalog Choice), the ones I received right before Thanksgiving were marked “Late Holiday”. Seriously?

I (perhaps unwisely) stubbornly refuse to think about shopping until after Thanksgiving. And although I had no intention of participating in any Black Friday sales, I couldn’t resist at least thumbing through the advertisements that came in the Austin newspaper, where inserts outnumbered news probably 3 to 1.

Although this is the first year I think my son will really pay attention to the presents he opens, I want to be careful about the number of “things” we accumulate. My husband and I have always been mindful of the gifts we give him and ask our families to respect this desire, not only because we want to lessen our impact on the Earth, but also because we want him to value experiences over material goods. If you would like to do the same, or encourage your families to give different kinds of gifts, here are some ideas:

  • A family membership to the Austin Children’s Museum is $10 off until the end of the year (including renewals). It’s a great place to go as a family, take out of town guests or take along friends (the Basic Membership allows 4 visitors). It’s worth it financially if you can make it once a month and gives you an excuse to go explore downtown and get out of the house.
  • Speaking of downtown, take a carriage ride to spend a fun night together taking in the holiday decorations (or any time of year).
  • The UT men’s and women’s basketball teams play at the Erwin Center and getting tickets to a game on a weekend is a fun family excursion (and it doesn’t matter if you are in the nosebleed section).
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  • Asking relatives to help pay for a class (we love Sportball, or you could try art or dance lessons). Some of these are drop off, but you can also find some that are Mommy and Me if you’d prefer to participate.
  • Planning a family getaway — either something major, like Disney, or something simple, like camping at a state park.
  • Buy tickets to a performance, be it The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Holiday Heroes or even a movie at the IMAX.

What other ideas might I be forgetting?

There are so many fun events coming up, so be sure to check out the Weekenders to experience the holidays as a family. You can also check out my Taming Holiday Treats post for ideas on reducing your family’s sugar intake this holiday season. Happy shopping!

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

5 Comments on Giving Experiences This Holiday Season

  1. sorta related, but not really…we have big plans to make volunteerism a big part of our family celebrations/outings for the holidays in coming years. we hope to get the tradition started the year that quinn turns 3, starting with helping prepare and serve at the caratas thanksgiving food line. volunteerism is something that was important and enjoyable for me before i had kids, and i want to get back to it and teach my children to enjoy and value it as well.

    i love the idea of the carriage ride. i also like the idea regarding the children’s museum. a zoo membership is something we’ve also considered…it benefits the rescue animals, and we seriously love the austin zoo and go many times each year. i wonder if the blanton has yearly memberships…that’d be a great experience, too…maybe for older kids.

    we also are planning to ask indulgent grandparents to help with the cost of a class instead of with large toys that clutter and get played with for a short while before they are ignored.

  2. This is a great post, Nicole. I really like the idea of giving experiences, especially as my eleven year old is outgrowing toys. I have a tough time thinking of things to buy for him now, but I can easily think of several experiences that he would enjoy. Thanks!!

    I think the holidays are a great time for cleaning out all of the old toys and donating them…. it gets the house cleaned out and allows others who don’t mind buying used for Christmas presents an opportunity to “recycle” something rather than buying new.

  3. Lori, I think adding volunteerism into your holiday traditions is a great idea! And I definitely agree that the holidays are a great time to purge since you know some new things will be entering your house.

  4. I love the idea of giving a year’s worth of experiences. A present for each month of the year (or several months bulked together) with a special planned experience for the family. For example, a box labeled January could include a trip to the ice skating rink with a brochure or picture of the rink and a pair of mittens. A box labeled for a warmer month could contain tickets to the zoo or museum with some cheap binoculars. The premise is to show your child you are setting aside a day for an experience together. Including tickets/brochures/info pamplets/small gifts about the experience works to excite the kids. I remember opening a present containing a flashlight one year, and feeling a bit disappointed until my dad told me to check the battery compartment and I found a map/date/info packet of the camping trip that was already planned. Putting aside a day a month to bank experiences as a family is something most of us are already doing. This is just a special way to present it and cut down on the toy chaos in the process!

  5. Just saw this on Austin Kidbits, in case anyone is interested, since it’s kinda relate:

    Saturday, December 5th: Take your fancy Nancy to The Driskill Hotel this weekend for a special Mother Daughter Tea. An assortment of custom blended teas and scrumptious treats will be served from 3 – 5 p.m. in the Grand Lobby.

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