Gifts of Experience are in. Boring gifts that kids play with for 10 minutes, lose interest in and are left to clutter the house (and wasting money) are so ‘yesterday’.
Gifts of Experience build memories family members will cherish for a lifetime.
A “one-on-one” Day with Grandma buildings strong relationships by getting to know each other better, without anyone or anything taking your attention away. Quality time spent bonding this way while the child is young almost guarantees grandkids will enjoy time with Grandma when they are young adults. Spending the night (one at a time) is a favorite for kids as well as for grandparents.
Why not give the child something to look forward to, after Christmas Day is over, instead of the usual “day after Christmas” letdown? Anticipation of an upcoming experience fosters happiness on its own, making the actual event even more fun! A gift of experience is actually the gift of time…..and it benefits both the giver and the recipient.
Make a list of things they can choose from on ‘their’ special day’. A fun activity might be going out to split a 1/2 price malt at Sonic in the evening* or playing and enjoying a picnic in the local park with tuna sandwiches, some chips, a banana and a jug of tea allows you to take pictures of the day that will become a treasured memory. A trip to the grocery store to buy a brownie mix or to gather ingredients to make a simple peach cobbler, or popcorn with white chocolate to eat as you sit and visit. Fixing a meal together allows you to mentor as they learn something how to read a measuring cup (slyly teaching them fractions and kitchen skills such as how to easily peel an egg. FACT: kids will eat things they made, even if it was something they thought they hated before.
(*Explaining up front that you have enough money to get one, if you split it, is a learning experience for the child that makes them appreciate it more if they realize that it is even more special, since money is tight for you. It awakened a lifelong desire in our kids to not be greedy and to want to share with others so they both could enjoy.)
Set the date and get to planning in advance; jotting down things to teach/ tell/share with them on their day. Funny stories from your childhood, how to write in cursive, life skills such as how to make a bed or something you have learned to do.) What is something you enjoyed as a child and let them do it? Wading in the creek? Feeding ducks? Looking for fossils? Feeding a calf? Picking berries? Fishing? Skimming rocks?
Keep it simple.
Check for local nature areas/centers in your area, a local cave, and state parks. Get out and explore as you walk and look at the trees and see what treasures you find. Walking tours let your loved one see your town in a fresh way. Look in your town for historical sites, architecture tours, local attractions and museums.
THE BEST: Teach them to give back. A volunteer activity you do together can be an amazing gift. While giving them an experience they’ll remember, you’ll be fostering the kids’ budding compassion and empathy for others in need. Visit an assisted living facility or nursing home to bring some much needed light into the residents’ lives by distributing cards the little ones drew or deliver meals through Meals on Wheels, notes of encouragement for families with babies in the NICU, help with something at church, such as preparing a funeral meal for someone who lost a spouse. Teach them how important it is to think of others and how appreciated it is to a widowed person to be remembered on the hardest days….the loved ones birthday, their wedding anniversary, the anniversary of the loved ones passing and Valentines Day. This is a golden opportunity to teach them that it is ok to talk and share their own memories about the one who passed because it leaves the widow/widower with a new and warm memory to cherish that they didn’t have before.
Seeing how their kindness is appreciated and how good it makes them feel when someone smiles and says thank you they learn the value of always expressing gratitude to others so they, toom can feel good for what they have done. This give you the opportunity to share with them that when someone does or says something nice for them then they should find something nice for five others. It is called Pay it forward—and it eventually comes back around. The Bible calls it sowing and reaping. …whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6;
Afterglow…send them home with something, a book from a garage sale, a picture of grandpa they hadn’t seen before….the cream puffs you two made together to share with the family. Give from what you have at your home already as it will have more meaning than something everyone can buy at Walmart.
An experience gift gives them treasured memories, long after you are gone, and teaches them something they might even pass down to their own grandkids.
Research has found that if you spend the same amounts on an experience and a physical thing, the experience will make you happier in the long run. Be a minimalist when it comes to gifts, but maximalists when it comes to experience.