Giving the Gift of Experiences


I dread Christmas for a single reason.

More. Stuff.

It seems like my house is filled with stuff. And though quite a bit goes out the door as it breaks or is donated, it seems that more replaces it. While Christmas may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” it is also when the most “stuff” finds its way in to my house.

With “Santa,” grandparents, and cousins filling the “stuff” requirements, my husband and I have begun to gift our girls with experiences.

Giving the Gift of Experiences

Giving Experiences instead of stuff

Experiences don’t have to cost a lot, nor do they have to take you far.

  • Last year my mother gave all her grandkids a certificate for a “weekend alone with Grandma” and personalized each with suggested activities she knew they would enjoy: learning to sew, baking, canoeing, bird watching.
  • A mixing bowl and cookbook for a budding baker.
  • A class for an expressive artist at the Des Moines Art Center.
  • A day spent snowshoeing at Jester Park.
  • A horseback riding lesson (we go to Magistaad Stables in Pleasant Hill, as she will work with children ages 3 and up).
  • Give each child a piece of camping gear – and then let everyone help plan a camping weekend at one of Iowa’s parks.
  • Ice skating at Brenton Plaza or Metro Ice Sports Arena.

Consider experience gifts that can be used all year.

  • Blank Park Zoo membership also includes reciprocity for free or discounted admission to nearly 200 zoos around the U.S.
  • Science Center of Iowa membership has reciprocity for free or discounted admission to 300 science centers across the country.
  • The National Parks Service offers the America the Beautiful pass which covers entrance fees at over 2,000 federal recreation sites.

Some experiences may be used only once – but spark a new passion.

Creatively packaged, these gifts will continue giving long after the holiday season is over and the batteries in the “stuff” have died.

Do you give experience gifts? What are your favorites?



      • I’m actually planning on giving my niece a horse lesson/ride which you had as an example. My sisters and I give my Mom a girl’s weekend package including hotel, spa, shopping and food – my sisters and I take care of everything and all my Mom has to do is enjoy and have fun. My husband and I take both of our Dad’s on a gambling trip each year to a different Iowa casino. We take care of the hotel rooms and meals and all they have to do is bring their gambling money and luck!


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