As any parent can tell you, Christmas and birthdays, while fun, exciting, and memorable, can often be overwhelming just from the sheer amount of new toys accumulated. Many parents, in an attempt to tame the toys, like to give their children “experience gifts”. Experiences help build memories, help you simplify, and can save you money. Instead of gifts for your child, family and friends can contribute to their experience gifts as well. Here are some of my favorite experience gifts:
1. Zoo Passes
-Kids love the zoo, and most zoos offer annual passes that are only slightly more than a one-day admission.
2. Theme Park Tickets/Passes
-Some theme parks offer resident pricing, but if that is still steep, consider a day trip to your local (or closest) theme park for your child’s birthday. If there are no theme parks close to you, get tickets for an annual county fair or carnival.
3. Sports Sign-Ups
-Sports seasons can be pricey (between $50-$100 a child, just for registration, and not counting any equipment, team party fees, etc.) For your child’s birthday present, have friends and family contribute to a sports season.
4. _____ Lessons
-Is your child interested in learning horseback riding, art, or guitar? Lessons can be a wonderful birthday present, and there are a world of options to suit any child’s interest!
5. Movie at the Theater
-Purchase discount movie tickets at Costco, and take your child out for a movie in the theater. Theater movies are an exciting outing for kids; especially if you splurge and let them bring candy!
6. Day at an Entertainment Park
-Think a day of mini golf, arcade games, and any other attractions your local entertainment park offers.
7. Special Meal Out
-We always went out to dinner, my choice, the day of my birthday. I always thought this was better than a party! Breakfast out the morning of your child’s birthday is a fun tradition as well (he or she would especially enjoy it if it means getting to school late =) )
8. A “Date” With Each Parent
-For a special memory, allow your child to spend some one-on-one time with each parent. This could be a date to get a bagel with mom one morning, and an afternoon with dad at the park. Great memories don’t have to cost a lot of money.
9. Tickets to a Sporting Event
-Instead of a toy, consider taking your child to a local sporting event. Most Major League stadiums have inexpensive standing-room-only seats. Half of the fun is walking around the park anyway! If you have a local minor-league team, the tickets are often very inexpensive even for good seats. Minor League stadiums may even let your birthday child’s name go up on the scoreboard for free!
10. Combine All Family Birthdays To Put into a Vacation Fund
-We had never taken a family vacation before last year, but we also didn’t want to add any more expenses to our year. So, last year we decided to take our entire family birthday budget (including our anniversary), and put it towards vacation. We had an incredible time, and my children also considered it their “birthday trip”, making it even more special for them.
Remember, your time is worth more than toys in the eyes of your child.