Every year I struggle with what to do about holiday gifts.
We have a toy room overflowing with toys nobody plays with. We have more clothes and shoes (girl mom life!) than necessary and genuinely just don’t need tangible gifts.
Consider trying non-toy gifts for the holidays
But, because the holidays are supposed to be about giving, I have a hard time telling people not to spend money on my kids. And it wasn’t so long okay (fine, it was a long time ago) that I was a kid who counted down all year to the morning when I could rip into all the gifts and enjoy all the new trinkets that found their way into my house to be enjoyed by my siblings and me.
This year, I’m working hard to encourage gift-givers to consider the gift of an experience for the holidays, coupled with a tangible gift my girls can open to correlate with the experience. Hopefully this way my girls can actually create memories in 2019 from all the wonderful things they will experience rather than just messes that I can complain about once they go to sleep! Try one of these ideas for experiences to gift.
Memberships to local museums, zoos or aquariums
We are fortunate enough to live in a metro area that has two zoos, two museums with children’s areas and three aquariums. These hot spots were great when my kids were little for inexpensive daily entertainment. Not only could we go any day we wanted without having to worry about finding a coupon or waiting for a discount, we often received discounts throughout the venue on things such as food and gift shop items. This gift will keep your kiddo entertained all year! Wrap up a small stuffed animal, maybe a lion for the zoo or a fish for the aquarium, and tie a note around its neck stating that this gift also includes a membership. Toy binoculars (for exploring a museum) or a t-shirt with the museum’s logo might be a fun way to announce a gifted membership there.
For the girl moms: a spa day or princess tea party day
My girls go gaga for a fancy makeover at Sweet & Sassy, but, the prices in our area mean I can’t afford to take them there on a regular basis. But the holidays are the perfect time to gift these experiences! What little girl doesn’t love having her nails painted and hair done? And the packages these princess spas offer are usually customizable, meaning your little girl can get as glammed up as you want her to be!
A fun gift for the under the tree might be a sheet face mask announcing the spa day or a new nail polish and lip gloss. We also have several tea party places in our area where you can book a tea party complete with dressing up, cupcakes, tea, the works! These are also a fabulous outing for you and your little one. Just pop a tiara and wand under the tree to get her excited!
Instructional experience classes that may or may not include mom and dad!
A friend alerted me to all the awesome crating classes offered at our local JoAnn Fabrics. So several us went together and signed our girls up for sewing lessons over the upcoming holiday break. My daughter will receive three total lessons and will make a pillow and pajama pants during these lessons! The class requires certain items that she brings herself, so I am compiling a sewing kit to wrap up and slide under the tree that will also announce she gets to learn how to sew with her friends!
Many local bakeries in our area offer cooking classes, and we live near cooking kitchens such as Tastebuds and Young Chefs that offer classes for all ages, including family and mommy and me classes. What a great way to get your kids to love cooking! A great gift for under the tree might be a funky spatula and measuring utensils or an apron and a chef’s hat.
Activity passes for kids that include a multitude of experiences for year-round fun
In our metro area, we have Pearachute Kids, a class-pass system where parents can buy credits and redeem them for everything from dance classes to trampoline park jump time and karate classes to swim lessons. This way kids can try out a number of activities before they figure out what’s right for them! Other cities also have KidPass, a similar concept to Pearachute. Your city might also have PogoPass, a similar set up where you buy one pass and can use it to access dozens of activities all over your area! A fun gift for under the tree might be a fancy notepad and pens so kids can dream up all the activities they want to try with their new activity pass!
Staycation package for the family
We live within driving distance of so many cool activities. We have lots of hotels that have attached waterparks (both indoor and out!) that my girls regularly beg to visit. Because even one night at many of these places comes with a hefty price tag, we usually reserve overnights for a special occasion. I think the holidays are a special occasion! Book a few nights over spring break or at the end of the school year (or just a long weekend away!) and wrap up a small suitcase or weekend bag (or even a cute new bathing suit!) to stick under the tree.
Hopefully some of these gifts will help me keep my girls entertained throughout the holiday season and all year long so we avoid the post-holiday slump because we are so busy having fun! And maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll actually be able to keep the playroom clean for the first year since I became a mom if I don’t actively spend the holidays adding to the clutter!