6 'Experience' Gifts That Will Delight the Kids on Your Christmas List

Children at zoo feeding giraffe

The requests from well-meaning family members have already begun to trickle in, and I can't help but cringe slightly every time someone asks, "What can I get the boys for Christmas?" Don't get me wrong — we're all so grateful to have family to share the holidays with, and people in our lives who want to make our kids' Christmas a festive, gift-filled experience. But (and I know that many of you have this "but" in your lives too...) we have SO MUCH STUFF.

My husband and I bought our first house almost two years ago. We moved from our over-cramped 2-bedroom apartment in the city to a big, beautiful home in the suburbs. But in no time at all, our big, beautiful home has become chock-full of blocks, Legos, trucks, trains, stuffed animals, baby gear, hand-me-down bags of clothes, books, and mementos from outings and trips that we or other members of our family have taken. The last thing we need is something else to introduce to the playroom that will find its way to a pile in the corner in no time.

This year, we are focusing more on experiences for the kids, rather than material things. How much better would it be for our sons to go an do something with someone they love, rather than play for 15 minutes with a plastic toy that they'll probably forget about as soon as the next plastic toy shows up? While an experiential gift might not be practical for everyone, we're doing what we can to make it happen more than not.

According to Wellness Mama, shared family time and experiences have been linked to:

  • Bonding within the family
  • Fewer behavioral problems in children
  • A stronger sense of identity
  • A sense of security for children
  • Higher rates of academic success
  • Lower rates of violence

And did I mention family time and experiences mean less stuff?

If you would like to give your kids an experiential gift this year or want to ask family to chip in for something the kids can do, here are some ideas that I've found:

1. Music or gym class

My one-year-old isn't in school yet, and he gets plenty of time at home playing with his older brother's toys. But I wanted him to be exposed to other babies his age, and for him to engage in a class. For his first birthday, we asked his grandparents to give us the money they would have spent on a physical gift so that we could put it toward a music class. And he loves it. Every week, thanks to his grandparents, he gets to shake bells and shakers and crawl around a room with other little kids while we all sing. And he's getting much more out of the experience than he would from some toy.