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5 reasons you should give experiences as gifts this Christmas

The kids rip through the wrapping paper at lightning speed, not slowing down for long enough to enjoy the gift before moving onto the next. At the end of the day, they’ve received so much stuff they can’t remember what they got (or who gave it to them) and you’re wondering where on Earth you’re going to put it all.

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s time to look at gift giving in a different way and create some Christmas traditions that really matter.

Before you start calling me the Grinch and thinking I’m all “bah-humbug!” I have to tell you, I love Christmas! It’s a beautiful time of year. It’s a time for joy, giving thanks and connecting with family and friends. But increasingly it’s becoming a time of excess, competition and overwhelm.

There’s a lot of pressure. Pressure to find the right gifts.  The biggest. The newest model. The most expensive. The old keeping up with the Joneses (and their kids, who are apparently all getting new smartphones under the tree this year).

It can put unfair expectations on parents, especially those whose finances are already stretched. Did you know Australians racked up $25 billion in Christmas spending last year, with each person forking out a whopping $1325 on Christmas gifts for their family and friends!

Here are a few facts about Aussie’s Christmas waste:

·        We receive more than 20 million unwanted gifts at Christmastime

·        We use more than 150,000 km of wrapping paper – enough to wrap around the globe 4 times

·        86% of Aussies find Christmas puts a strain on their finances, with buying gifts reported as the major cause of this pressure

Creating Christmas traditions your own way

I bet if you think about the Christmases from your childhood, you won’t recall the presents you received, but instead it’ll be the memories that come to mind. Sure, there might be a few special gifts you’ll never forget – your first bike, or the Cabbage Patch Doll you were desperate for Santa to bring.

But what are your best memories? Is it playing with your cousins at Christmas lunch, filling a huge bowl with nanna’s trifle you only got to eat once a year, or the game of backyard cricket that carried on from the year before?

Whether your family is small or large, there are plenty of ways you can create your own Christmas traditions in line with your values. Maybe you always go to church as a family on Christmas Day and say a special prayer before your meal. Perhaps you pack up and go camping, getting back to nature and away from the crowds.

You might take a minute during your Christmas dinner to talk about the things you’re most grateful for, or maybe you have a special Christmas movie you watch every year. Are you a Love Actually, Home Alone or Miracle on 34th Street kinda girl?

A couple of other fun, low-cost ideas for family Christmas traditions:

·        Donate a gift or food hamper items to a local charity who will pass them onto those doing it tough this Christmas

·        Decorate a gingerbread house or bake Christmas cookies

·        Go to your local Carols by Candlelight

·        Drive around your neighbourhood looking at Christmas lights

·        Read the Christmas story or a favourite Christmas book

·        Create a holiday playlist with your favourite Christmas songs (hello, Michael Buble!)

5 reasons you should give experiences as gifts this Christmas

Author and minimalist Joshua Becker says many consumers in the US go into the holiday season with leftover debt from the previous year AND then rack up new debt in the current season.

He says, “Giving gifts is an expression of love, and it has been for thousands of years. Well before our consumer-driven society, people offered gifts as a sign of respect and admiration. Kings, peasants, and everyone in-between.

“This is not an argument for no longer giving gifts to people we love. I think giving gifts is great. But I do think it would be wise for us to rethink how we give them.”

Giving experience gifts is becoming increasingly popular. Here’s why you should get in on the trend.

It creates less waste

All those mountains of discarded wrapping paper and the crazy amount of plastic packaging kids toys come in these days – it’s next level, you have to be MacGyver to open those things!

Not to mention the amount of unwanted gifts given every year that either take up space in the back of the cupboard, or worse, end up in landfill. Our culture of excess gifting has also led to tonnes of excess waste.

Gifting experiences rather than presents is more sustainable, requires no wrapping paper or packaging and won’t end up gathering dust in the cupboard.

It’s more memorable

A thoughtful gift of an experience someone will actually enjoy will create lasting memories.

Your kids won’t remember all the toys they were given, but they’ll remember their trip to the zoo or aquarium, or when Uncle Joe took them to see their favourite football team play, or the time Grandma took them to see the theatre production of My Fair Lady.

You can avoid shopping centre chaos

Mall mayhem. Shopping centre chaos. Carpark rage.

No thanks, I’ll pass.

I don’t know about you, but the bedlam at the shops in December is enough to make me run a mile. It’s so simple to go online to arrange an experience for a loved one, you’ll be able to give a meaningful gift and avoid a stressful, time-consuming trip to the shops.

It can be a bonding experience

Gifting an experience is fantastic, but an experience you can share together? Even better. Giving the gift of your time and enjoying a sporting event, movie or trip to the zoo is a great bonding experience to share.

People love that you want to spend time with them, especially kids.

You could even ditch gifts all together and take a family holiday instead.

Experiences enrich our lives

While a lot of people don’t want or need more stuff, most people would admit to wanting more fun and enjoyment in their lives.

Experience gifts are enriching. They give us new things to put in our memory bank and new stories to tell. They also create anticipation and excitement – think about that fantastic feeling of having something fun to look forward to and counting down the days until you get to see you favourite singer live on stage or hear the crowd roar at the sporting match. Fun, right?

A few ideas for your experience gift list

Need a little inspiration to help you sort your Christmas list? Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

·        A horseriding adventure

·        Tickets to their favourite sporting event

·        Concert or theatre tickets

·        A cooking class

·        A restaurant voucher

·        Passes to a local attraction, like Go Karting or indoor rock climbing

·        Ten pin bowling

·        A subscription to their favourite magazine

·        Movie tickets

·        A voucher for a family photo session

·        A night off – offer to babysit for a couple so they can enjoy a night out on their own

·        A musical instrument and lessons (maybe not a recorder if you want to be invited over next Christmas)

Over to you!

Do you give experiences as gifts in your family? What has been your favourite?

Please comment below and let me know your answer.

Remember to also join me LIVE on Facebook at 11am AEDT Tuesdays, each and every week. I will be asking this question again there and giving you the opportunity to nab a gorgeous monthly GIVEAWAY!

Thank you so much for being here and for adding your perspective. It means the world to me. Please share this post with someone you love, because they might be in need of some slowing fun today too!

Blessings, Hiddy xx

P.S. If you are simply visiting here and not already part of my growing and thriving tribe of slowing AND achieving women worldwide, you can sign up here and grab the ‘Slow Down In My Life Right Now’ freebie to get started slowing AND achieving with me today!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Emma says:

    I love this article and thank you for the tips. We give only the children gifts at Christmas but celebrate time together as a family in different ways each year. My favourite ritual is what we call kids Christmas… this is when me and my 4 adult siblings together with our families get together each year on the 25th November to enjoy a family fun day and Christmas celebration doing something fun. This year we spent the day paddle boarding.