The Gift of Experience!

When I was a kid, my Aunt Beth gave my family concert tickets. In order to attend the concert, we would have to travel 3 hours and stay overnight. Aunt Beth lived in the city, so it worked to stay at her house and she offered to feed us and drive us to and from the concert. The concert was more than I had ever dreamed of; the lights, a full orchestra, the opportunity to sit among fellow music lovers. We felt like royalty sitting in the beautifully ornate theatre, decked out in our finest. The next morning, my Aunt’s breakfast table was filled with all our favorite breakfast foods and the joyous laughter we shared was a picture of pure love and happiness. Looking back, the entire experience was even better than the concert itself.

I love that my Aunt Beth could see how much this experience would mean to me and my family. These days, as a mom, I hope to find a way to gift my children with this kind of memory maker at least once in their life, if not every few years. The giving season always brings up questions of how to surprise them with something they will love and enjoy and maybe even cherish forever! Here are some things I’ve been thinking about and looking into:

There are some real life benefits of giving an experience.

  • Learn about yourself. Learn about others. Learn about science, animals, engineering, etc.
  • Grow mental flexibility skills (because mishaps happen!).
  • Plug into your sense of courage and self-esteem to do something new.
  • Develop your understanding of the unfamiliar and grow appreciation for the things you already love.
  • Experiencing an event together strengthens relationships with friends, family, and communities.

The power of the ‘debrief’! You don’t need to spend hours debriefing, but asking a few questions can help cement the experience in their minds.

  • Talk with your kids/family/friends about what they learned. What surprised them? What do they think they will remember most?
  • Were there parts they didn’t understand or wanted more of?
  • Ask them how they want to stay tuned-in to the long lasting gifts of this experience.

Considerations are important! Here are some key things to consider on your quest to find an experience that will last a lifetime.

  • Find the right fit. Will it be something for the whole family? Consider the needs of each family member (bed time, length of experience) Will it be gifted to just one child? And is it something that can be shared with a friend or extended family to enhance the experience, etc.
  • Be Present. Let the experience be the focus of the time. (Could you request no technology?) Or could you invite your family to honor the time and space of the experience by allowing it to fill the time and space. If your crew isn’t completely ready for a no-tech experience, try making a plan that builds time into the event to take selfies, post to social media, etc.
  • Strategize your spending. Do you want to pay for snacks? Will you need special clothing or rentals? Try to plan out as much of the experience ahead of time so you know how you will manage requests for extras. Planning how you will navigate your wallet through the experience will steer you away from coming home with a giant stuffed animal or other things that were what you were trying to stay away from buying in the first place.

Here’s a short brainstorm of ideas to inspire your planning:

  • Does your family love going to the ocean or the mountains? A weekend or week-long get away together is a popular way of giving an experience to the whole family.
  • Is your teen interested in music? See if the local music venue could give a backstage tour or chance to see a recording studio in action.
  • Online courses or in-house crafting classes gives the recipient something to take away as a keepsake.
  • Gift certificates to the spa, local putt-putt course, sports arena, children’s’ museum, etc.

 And some great ideas without a heavy cost to them:

  • A trip a local nonprofit animal sanctuary with a behind the scenes tour. Or buy a family membership so you can visit as many times as you want during the year.
  • The little ones might enjoy a trip to the fire station, complete with a guided tour of a firetruck.
  • Create a coupon book for your little ones to cash in pint-sized experiences whenever they want (movie time with mom, explorer’s day complete with fortress building, bike riding along the river path with dad and a picnic lunch, etc.)

The ideas for gifting an experience are endless. Part of the fun is that you can build it as you see fit. Add on a special hat or gear for the event or offer theme related guidebooks. Make a treasure hunt for your little ones to seek out their experience invitation. Mostly, enjoy creating a memory that will last a lifetime.

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Image: © Steve Mann |


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