The holiday gift giving season is over. We did something a bit different this year. My older sister (who has five kids) and I (with three kids) asked some of our family members to give our kids gifts of experiences instead of toys. Let me explain. We asked for gift cards or tickets to events and activities. For example, our parents bought everyone (including the adults) season passes to Six Flags. This way we can all go numerous times and have some fun times together. I bought my niece and nephews a ticket to City Museum and a $5 gift card to use once there. With a family of seven, my sister has to pay a lot of money just to do a family outing. By receiving the gift from my family, they can easily afford to go. My husband’s side of the family jumped on board too and paid for tickets to Silver Dollar City and to Dixie Stampede. The memories we made while there will last much longer than any toy would have lasted.
My best friend even joined in the fun. Instead of exchanging gifts with her and her kids, we had a day of cookie decorating fun instead. We all had a great time and we went all out on cookie decorations (in fact, I’m still finding sprinkles;)
This was challenging for some family members. My mom especially was worried that the kids would be missing out on toys or be unhappy without the instant satisfaction of a toy. That was not the case though. For one thing, the kids all still received some toys. Santa brought them each three gifts (because Jesus received three gifts) and we gave them three gifts. So they had plenty of toys on Christmas morning. Plus, they were very excited to know we have some activities to do this year. The kids ages range from 18 months to 12 years old and no one seemed disappointed.
It is definitely something I want to continue doing. The happiness and quality time we have from these gifts are priceless.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.