Experiential Memories :: A New Look at Christmas Gifts


About four years ago a friend and I were discussing our childhood Christmas gifts, and I she challenged me to name 20 gifts I had received as a child. No problem! Or so I thought … would you believe that I had a hard time getting past naming 10??!!

As we discussed childhood and family memories, it became apparent to me that I could not remember many of the toys I had been given, but what I could remember were things we did together. I remember things like vacations, the family reunions, trips to the zoo, spending summers at the pool, or piling in a car to see all the Christmas lights in town … MEMORIES became what I treasured.

This change was especially hard for me because I am a Black Friday ninja.

I used to buy gifts during three key times a year:

  1. Black Friday – for birthdays the following year and our personal household needs
  2. The Day After Christmas – for stocking stuffers the following Christmas
  3. Memorial Day/Fourth of July – for Christmas the upcoming year

But I began to have a change of heart about all the “savings” I was making every year by buying all our gifts on super sale. I began to see the real value in gift giving was to perhaps offer the same gift I treasured the most: a way to make family memories. Memories are what you will take with you through the years, not the plastic toys and gifts. Memories just might be the best possible gift I could pass on. 


So I began to buy group tickets to sporting events, museum and zoo memberships, summer pool passes, sports registrations, swimming lessons, baking classes, camp registration, park passes and more. These items can be more expensive than traditional toys. Sometimes this means that the kids get a combined birthday and Christmas gift, or even a group family gift depending on what the budget can handle. I was nervous about switching things up like that, as many of the children in the family are not even 10 years old. But the parents really loved it, which means that one day the children will also appreciate it, and they will have the memories to take with them.

If you don’t believe me, try naming 20 toys you were given as a child…

If you can’t, perhaps switching things up might be something to try.

Do you have some favorite childhood memories, of times spent with your family?

If you said yes, then maybe you should consider this alternative to consumerism also.

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