Stop with the Stuff :: Switching to Experience-based Gifts

The very first disclaimer I will make: I am thankful for the gifts my children have received. I know they are thoughtfully picked out with my children in mind. I am thankful for the generosity of my friends, family, and loved ones who care about my kids so much.

What my children love more than the presents, though, are the people who gave it to them.

“Essentials”

Before my first was even born, I had an EXTENSIVE baby registry full of the things she would need. Your baby does have needs, there is no doubt about that. But as my firstborn moved from infancy to toddler stage, it felt like that list got longer and longer. It also felt like some of the things I insisted she needed quickly fell by the wayside. Trends come and go. Working in marketing I can tell you that the next “it” thing is always around the corner. 

The other day, my daughter’s Parrain and his fiancé came to the house to deliver a sweet little teddy bear they got on their trip to Colorado. My daughter loves the bear. The bear even has its own pillow in her bed. 

What my daughter talked about for days on end, though, was their visit. 

“Uncle B played with me.”

“Aunt C read me a story.”

“Uncle B is silly.”

“Aunt C is pretty.”

Again, she loved the bear. But what she loved more was the time she spent with some of her favorite people. Feelings will trump things any day.

The gift of time

Is it easier to make a Target run and grab something cute? 100%. 

Do most moms say their kids have enough things? Probably almost 100%.

When we receive invitations in the mail, I always ask the parents what their kids need. Clothes, a toy, diapers, an Amazon gift card that mom can use when one of their other toys breaks. But there are a lot of times when the kids are really set and don’t NEED anything. 

I have analysis paralysis (also read: anxiety) when it comes to gifts. I overanalyze and end up leaving empty-handed. But when I thought about my friends’ visit with my daughter the other day, I had clarity. 

In 2022, my goal is to give experience-based gifts. I have no doubt some will be a hit, and some will be a miss, but I am committed to at least giving it a try.

The list

Sleepover

My daughter has slept at her godmother’s house a few times, and it’s her FAVORITE THING. She feels so loved and special. It does not have to be a big ordeal. My daughter was tickled just being able to see her friend outside of school and wake up at her Nanny’s house. Offer to host a sleepover so mom and dad can have a night out or even just one less kid to wrangle for a night. 

Story-time

The Lafayette Public Library Events are a great way to help kids experience something new. Offer the full library experience with a fun kid-friendly activity and help them to get a library card and check out a new book. If you want to add a little something, you can include a cute bookmark and a reading light or a small coin purse to store their new library card. 

Picnic in the Park

If you are a lover of the outdoors, offer to organize a playdate in the park. A few lunchables and the opportunity to play with friends is an excellent gift. 

Arcade Afternoon

For the bigger kids, constant entertainment seems to be the name of the game. Offer to provide an afternoon at the arcade for the kids to enjoy! 

Out to Lunch

Give mom and dad a break and offer to take their kiddo to lunch. Not only do they get a fun meal of their choice, but it’s a great opportunity to catch up and let them be the sole focus of your attention. 

Game Day

For the sports fan, buy tickets to the game! There is almost always a sport in-season. Buy tickets and give them the full fan experience by throwing in a new t-shirt for the occasion. Win-win. 

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.

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