We're coming up not only on Christmas, but also on Sam and Sadie's birthdays that follow close behind. Both celebrations include a lot of gift-getting on their parts. They, of course, are thrilled by the prospect. We, their parents, appreciate the generosity of friends and family as well. When it comes to deciding what we will give them for Christmas and birthday, we're often torn.
Do we add to their gifts? Find a gift alternative such as giving to a charity? Wrap up toys they haven't played with in awhile and hope they forget they've already opened them once before?
We determined that our goals are two-fold. One, we want to down-play the importance of things and two, we want to instill the value of giving (versus only receiving). For the latter, we talk about (and let them help with) what we're doing for others (that we don't know).
To attempt to defend off materialism (which is just dying to gobble-up our children), we've begun giving gifts of experiences instead of things. Now, I understand that experiences are things, too. They sometimes cost money and have the potential to become more extravagant than gifts of things. Our ideal is to find inexpensive experiences that will provide fond memories of celebrating their lives (in the case of their birthdays) and of Christ's coming (in the case of Christmas). We started this tradition last year when we all went bowling for their birthdays. This past weekend, Sam and Sadie received their birthday present for this year a tad early.
Years ago when Jamey traveled for work, he earned hotel points toward free nights. Those hotel points expire the end of this year, hence the reason their "gift" was early. We used the last of our points and booked a free night in a very nice hotel with an indoor swimming pool and had Papa John's pizza delivered to our room for dinner. When we told Sam and Sadie our plans, Sam cried (literally) between squeals of delight and giving of hugs.
We had such a wonderful time. When we walked into the marble-clad lobby with the nine-foot decorated Christmas tree, they could not contain their excitement. The lady at the desk probably wondered when the last time was we let our children out of the house.
The kids spent two hours in the pool both days (we had it to ourselves the whole time), thought having pizza delivered to the hotel room was awesome and loved eating in the hotel's complimentary full breakfast restaurant. Several times over those two days, we heard Sam say, "This is the BEST birthday present EVER!" and Sadie say, "Dis is SO citing!" (Translation: This is so exciting!).
Except for the two hours it took to get everyone asleep in the same hotel room, the birthday present was a success. We have another experience-gift planned for them for Christmas, but that one is a secret. For now.
Now I know we are not the first ones to ever think of giving an experience as a gift and we will be forever in need of new ideas. So, please share with us what experiences you've given in the past.
P.S. Just thought you'd like to know that I took a shower today- almost all by myself. Baby steps are just fine by me.