Last Updated on
This post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure statement here.
Every year, my family and I sit down and write out goals to better out life – less fast food, more family time, etc. Last year, we decided to do something big. As a whole, we decided that every family member would recieve an experience instead of a physical gift for their birthday.
Our year of giving experiences as gifts taught us so much, and here’s why you should try it too.
1. It allows you to manage expectations.
At the beginning of the year, our family sat down together and created a plan. Plain and simple – we will not be gifting physical items to each other. As adults, my husband and I knew exactly what this meant, but we made it very clear for the kids. We explained that this meant there would be no writing of birthday wish lists and we wouldn’t be getting them a physical gift on top of the experience.
When you say it out loud, it sounds a bit harsh. Kids learn to expect gifts on special days, and laying it out as clear as you possibly can will change that expectation.
To my surprise, the kids never once asked for a physical item as a gift. They would suggest activities, but ultimately came to trust that we would be doing something fun and exciting.
2. You’ll notice the impact each and every experience makes.
After the very first experience we gifted, everyone realized how much fun this was going to be. After we took her horseback riding for her birthday, Holly couldn’t stop talking about how she couldn’t believe she finally got to try it. The kids were bragging to our family and friends about what a unique and fun day we had.
We would leave each experience so amped on life. We all radiated happiness and talked about it for months afterward – something thats just not comparable to recieving a new toy, clothes, or electronic.
3. You can still stick to your budget.
I’m the queen of being cheap AF when it comes to gifting. I will wait for months to find the cheapest price for something. I save up and make sure I’m sticking to what I can afford. I even ask family members to chip in for large gifts.
Guess what? All of those frugal tactics can be applied to giving experiences as gifts. Do your research, shop around, come up with alternatives, and even invite family members or friends along to get a discounted rate. Your experiences don’t have to be expensive to be unique or fun. Trust me – we learned this when we took the kids to The Beach Detroit. It was something we never expected, and it was 100% free. I think the most expensive thing we did was visit the Legoland Discovery Center in Michigan for CJ’s birthday in November, and even that was only $100 for all of us.
4. It helps to decrease physical (and emotional) clutter
This one is super obvious, but so important. More physical items means more things to see, think about, worry about, and take care of. Owning less stuff decreases not only physical clutter, but emotional clutter as well.
After spending the last 2 years selling junk to create a more peaceful and organized home, there was no way I was adding more items to our home that my family would use for 6 months and then be sick of. The truth is that there will always be physical items that people want or need, but much of the items we gift don’t fall into this category.
5. You’ll end up feeling accomplished and fulfilled.
The overall feeling I have from completing a full year of experiences as gifts is absolutely incredible. When I look back on the last year, I feel like we did more as a family than we ever had before. We didn’t go far and we certainly didn’t spend more money, but it feels like we did.
We have so many new memories. So much to talk about. Items crossed off our bucket lists. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever experienced.
At the end of the year when it was time to write this year’s goals, I asked my family if they would want to do it again and they all answered yes. Doesn’t that say something?
Check out some photos from our experiences last year below:
Do you and your family give experiences as gifts? I wanna hear all about them in the comments!