Giving Experiences as Gifts


Giving Experiences as Gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

According to a Harris Poll, during the holiday season, 53% of Americans with children under the age of 18 feel pressure to spend more than they can afford. In fact, 20% of those thought they would have to pay 1 or more bills late due to holiday spending. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Every year as we gear up for the holiday season, I can’t help but think about the fact that gift giving leads to more stress. That is why our family has chosen to focus on giving experiences versus material items. After all, according to an article on the science of why you should spend your money on experiences instead of “things”, “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich.

You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.

It can be a bit challenging to give the gift of experience when your kids are little. But eventually, they move beyond Paw Patrol and the hot toy of the year (Hatchimals?!) and get to the age when they are enjoying doing stuff and making memories that will last into adulthood. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of gifts that focus on fun!

5 Experience Gifts for Teens and Tweens

1. PERFORMANCES. Take this opportunity to scour the ‘net for tickets to a coveted concert or a theatre show they’ve been asking to see. If you are able to score a couple seats to Hamilton, well… basically win Christmas. But this doesn’t have to be extravagant either. Even movie tickets to see the new Star Wars or maybe a collegiate basketball game would be hits for a kid with the relevant passion.

2. ACTIVITY PASSES or ANNUAL PASSES. Think about some of your teen’s favorite things to do and buy pre-paid passes for those activities. Some fun ideas are rock climbing, laser tag, indoor speedway, escape room, kayaking, or downhill skiing. Similarly, a membership or annual pass to a place that your teen finds enjoyable (and that you can do as a family) can be a great gift. There’s museums, the pool, or even an amusement park.

3. CLASSES/LESSONS. Are there some classes your kid has been itching to take? Ski or skating lessons? A cooking class? Perhaps a music or art class? These types of things make a great gift, and help show a child that they are not entitled to everything automatically and that to master a skill requires dedication and hard work. But the end result is amazing!

4. CAMP. Has your kid been itching to go to a certain camp every summer, but you turn them down because maybe it costs too much? Take this opportunity to give them the gift of a camp experience. A few years ago, my daughter really wanted to go to a gymnastics camp that was out of state, so we gave that to her as her Christmas gift.

5. TRAVEL. For a really memorable gift, consider taking a family trip. It could be a quick weekend getaway that is close by, like Chicago (perhaps with a CityPass to enjoy the city), a weekend at a hotel + indoor waterpark, or a more lengthy vacation. In the past, when we have given our kiddos trips to Disney World and Cancun as a gift, we wrap up a travel book or two for them to look through.  Or for older kids with travel opportunities as a part of their sports or music programs, this is a great opportunity to either gift them some money towards the trip.

Are there any other great experience type gifts you’ve had success with giving?

Looking for more ideas for the holiday season? Be sure to check out the rest of our holiday posts! Love this one with some great non-toy gift ideas for littles! 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here