Don’t just buy stuff to tick a box for Christmas…
It’s that time of year again when families across the world prepare for Christmas.
Needless to say there will be a lot of stuff bought.
Plastic is one of THE hot topics right now but that will get side lined in the coming weeks. There will be a whole lot of plastic toys bought as an alibi to get a shopping list done. How many presents for kids will still be used 6-8 weeks after Christmas?
I’m not here to criticise or get into a debate about the commercialisation of Christmas. I get it – you’ve list of people to buy for and it’s just got to get done.
Christmas also puts people under massive financial pressure with everyone annually forgetting the pain that January can bring them.
But we know all this right ? What can we do about it – even if we did want to change it?
An experience instead of stuff……
I have a gang of nieces and nephews. They range in age from 5 – 9 years of age. Shocking as this may be – they won’t get presents for Christmas from me.
They also won’t be disappointed.
No – I’m not that “mean” Aunty!
I have a great relationship with them and we have lots of fun together. At this point they don’t expect a present from me.
At Christmas and Birthdays they know they’ll get presents from everyone else on the day, they also know that after the chaos has calmed down and in the quiet days after the event they’ll get an experience that they’ll love. ( Either that or they were too young to know what was actually going on anyway).
Most of the time it’s done on an individual basis (definitely for Birthdays) but it can be combined at Christmas and here’s the fun bit. They get to choose!
So think – what experiences can you give instead of stuff?
What you do will depend on the person and the type of relationship you have – but get inventive!
It could be an experience – like a Babycino at the coffee shop, going to the swimming pool, or climbing wall, or heading out on an “ adventure walk” or a combination of things.
Half the thing with kids, as you well know – is the idea of it – to them. If you’re not enthusiastic about the whole enterprise – they won’t buy into it. My lot know our walks are not “just down the round & back” – they’re rock pooling by the beach or having loads of games in the forest, or if it is down the road – there’s a twist.
They also choose what they want to eat – it could be out for pizza, or ice-cream.
It could be ‘opening your own pizza restaurant’ – where they are the head chef and make their own pizza. Get out the aprons and the chefs hats and role play for an afternoon. They could run their own coffee shop and make babycinos & hot chocolates! If you can’t bake – by some biscuits or fairy cakes before hand!
If you do bake – at this time of year get them involved – that could be mince pies or making jam, preserves or biscuits as Christmas gifts – another job done in the process!
I have asked them which they prefer a pressie or ??? and they always choose the “adventure package” where they get to choose the adventure.
Now there are rules! So I don’t get bullied into mad money days out with entry fees! You’ve got to come up with a list of options before hand – that you can pull out of the bag when deciding what to do with them. If the ideas don’t get used save them for next time! I force them to get creative and to use their imagination rather than a ticket entry into anything that’s a quick fix. So because they’re involved in the planning, they have real ownership on the day and get ridiculously excited about it.
So there are no sad faces on “the day”. In fact it can be the opposite! – I could get a knowing wink!
What about their parents – what do they think of this? Won’t they be disappointed when you arrive empty handed? Not at all – at some point in the future they win – as you’re off out with the kids & they get to chill – the most valuable thing any parent wants to do!!
You’ll also be giving them the most valuable thing you have in the world – your time.
The relationships that develop out of this for all involved – are priceless.
That’s fine if the kids and parents are close – geographically and emotionally but what about everyone else?
Restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas – pretty much every experience you can think of has vouchers – get one for the family and you’re still on a winner. A person might initially be surprised when you give them an experience gift but they’ll love it.
I would say however, think it through. There’s no point gifting a ticket entry for a child to experience something and their parents now have to pay in – that won’t be appreciated! Actually think about how the family might spend their time and consider the commute and practicalities of getting there etc!
Start simply – use some of the ideas here. Keep it simple – especially if there are multiple kids!!!
For adults you can definitely gift an experience – meaning you often get to go & have even more fun too!
A long overdue coffee with a friend, a dinner out, cinema or concert tickets, a spa treatment, a weekend away and work from there!
Now don’t get overwhelmed with all the time and work this is going to cause you!
Start with one person and build from there – every Birthday every Christmas. You’ll soon find the pile of “stuff” you’ve to get is far smaller, meaning less stress for you at peak shopping periods. You’ll also forget in the mayhem that you’ve something afterwards to look forward to. So it’s really nice when every one else is back to normal – you’re off on you’re forest adventure or a night out.
Also, don’t think that this has to cost you lots money. The simplest ideas are the best – don’t overcomplicate it. It doesn’t have to be a sky diving adventure every time!
More importantly you can also pool together to gift an experience as a family, so if there is a big experience that a person would love to do – you can all pitch towards it . This actually makes it a real possibility, rather than a dream long held, as it’s to expensive for them as an individual.
Some will be vouchers and have a time limit, some will be an idea. This also can help spread out the load financially.
Sit down an have a chat with the person ( yes even if they’re 5! ) and tell them what kind of a day / afternoon/ evening you’re going to have together. Get them involved in the planning too!
Put your own time limit on it to have he experience – definitely no longer than a month unless it’s something specific that you’re actually booking. They will hold you accountable!!
Write it down – kids are great at getting you to hold your promise – so they won’t forget. As adults – do the same & the other person will definitely remind you!!
Book it!! So that your time and money doesn’t get sucked into the weekly shop!
Don’t forget you too can ask for an experience instead of stuff!
Remember to have fun! This shouldn’t be a chore!!
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