Guest post from Mridu of Life Is Organized
It’s no surprise to hear that experiences mean more than things. Material items bring us immediate, yet fleeting, joy. It’s memories and feelings that stay with us forever. But figuring out how to create a memory can leave you overwhelmed, and cost a pretty penny.
Here are 10 easy ways to create memorable holiday gifts, that are low on cost and high on value:
1. Create a coupon book.
Print (or write) 5-10 coupons for your loved one and staple them together to make a small booklet. These can be tasks that get someone “off the hook” like: No Dishes For A Week, or a Free Bed-Making Pass. It could also be “treats” like: A Massage or Sundaes For Dinner.
2. Make a conversation jar.
Decorate a jar with ribbon, get small notes of paper and a card with instructions that say: “Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Year’s Eve, open it and read what awesome things happened over the year.”
3. Show off your culinary prowess.
The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, right? Bake or cook a family favorite and spoil someone you care about.
TIP: Place your freshly baked goods in a decorative tin that can be reused throughout the year.
4. Create a night out.
Why not invite friends and/or family for a night of fun at your place? Create an invite for a memorable way to enjoy time with your loved ones after you’ve recovered from the holiday madness.
5. Give a gratitude journal.
Help someone create an experience for themselves all year long. Often times people have the intention of starting this meaningful habit, but need the tools to get it started.
6. Make a themed gift basket.
Add fun and useful items to create an enjoyable memory for someone special.
– Movie baskets including popcorn, a couple of DVD’s, a box of M&M’s and a soft blanket or fuzzy socks.
– A Family Night basket with a board game, pack of cards, bag of chips and a liter of lemonade.
– A Girl’s Night basket including nail polishes, magazines, drinks, and furry slippers.
7. Give a gift certificate or lessons.
Base this gift on hobbies your friend or family member are interested in — a sewing class, dance lesson, painting class, or cooking lesson. It’s especially memorable when it’s something they’ve never tried, but have wanted to do.
8. Create a photo calendar.
Grandparents can’t get enough of these! It’s not only customized and meaningful but useful for throughout the year.
TIP: If the thought of picking a bunch of photos is overwhelming, get the type of calendar that has just one photo that you can use for the whole year.
9. Monogram anything.
No matter what item anyone has, a monogrammed version of it makes it so much more memorable. It can be as simple as a pair of hand towels or a beach bag.
10. Wow them with tickets.
If tickets for movies, concerts, plays, amusement parks, sporting events, and museums are personalized to a person’s likes, they’re always appreciated.
TIP: You can get discounts on movie tickets and some events if you buy at bulk at places like Costco or Sam’s Clubs and then split them up for different friends.
“Experience gifts” evoke a distinct feeling of love, care and thoughtfulness. And if the gift is an event you can both participate in, it becomes a shared memory, something far beyond what a physical gift can offer.
What experience can you create for someone this holiday season, without breaking the bank?
Mridu Parikh is a Simplicity and Organization Junkie for women who are tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. She’ll show you how to get your life running smoothly – without the drama. Prepare to smile, get uber motivated and take action with Mridu’s 5-day free organizing series.
Steve Kobrin says
A Conversation Jar – what a wonderful idea! That would give us an opportunity to reflect on – and celebrate – all the good things that happened in the past year.
What great ideas! This year we purchased memberships for our whole family to Six Flags amusement park. We only live about 30 mins away and we pay a small monthly fee for the whole year and it includes free parking and free unlimited entrance into their huge water park as well. Since we live in CA we can go almost year round. We just eat at home before we go or pack a picnic lunch to save on meals in the park. It is really a lot of fun for all of us….and if we can ever get a sitter it will be a fun date night for hubby and me…:0)
Jayleen @How Do The Jones Do It says
Along the lines of the conversation jar … last year we made conversation jars with questions inside for conversation starters. We still pull it out at dinner sometimes when we can’t get the teenager to talk;0)
Just an idea of something I did when I was a teenager. My younger brother had a paper route and it was several miles from our home. My parents would take him on the route every day. I decided for Christmas one year that I would drive him on his route on Sunday mornings for several weeks.
Sounds great! Was it a present for him or for your parents?
It was for my parents. They didn’t have to wake up early before church. It wouldn’t have mattered one way or another to my kid brother – 🙂
When my nieces and nephews were small, my husband and I would take them roller skating as their Christmas gift.
We love this idea! Four years ago, my brother, sister-in-law and their two boys and our family decided that instead of giving gifts among the boys, we would just plan an activity during the Christmas season for all of us to enjoy together. The two families have 5 boys ages 7-15 years so really all they want to do it enjoy time together. We have done a variety of things, a Japanese Hibachi Restaurant, indoor play park, trampoline park, comedy club designed for all ages, and this year we are planning a night away at a hotel so all the boys can swim! It can get costly, but we all have enjoyed the time together and we try to come up with something for everyone to love.
We have even ventured out to our other family side and are going to try and do something like this with those cousins this Christmas instead of gifts. It just seems the amount of gifts to buy and receive overwhelms us and this is a fun alternative!
I second the photo calendar! I’ve made one for my mother-in-law beginning 6 years ago when our first baby was born… then last year, we had a lot of things going on and I never got a chance to make it, and boy did I hear about it! lol (not in a bad way 🙂 ) So yeah.. its already been created for this coming Christmas. This time of year, especially, several places have had codes for a free or 1/2 off calendar too, so its usually less than $10!
A lot of these weren’t really experience gifts. A gift basket, monogrammed items, etc.
Anyway, my in-laws get us a family science museum membership and a family zoo membership each year. Those are experience gifts that we use regularly with our three young kids. My 2nd grader’s school has an annual fundraiser that is a carnival… carnival tickets or a visit to the county fair are also good ideas.
I have to second the museum or zoo membership. My son is only 1, but I want to set a precedent that we don’t get a lot of “stuff” at Christmas because I don’t want it to run my life. My mom got us a museum membership (three museums in one) and she is renewing it for this year’s Christmas gift. It’s great because it becomes a free outing all year long.
-Housecleaning (I’m 13 weeks pregnant and I’d probably cry for joy if someone got this for me)
– Organizing or decorating help
– Overnight at a grandma’s house
– A limited time subscription to Neflix or something similar
-Restaurant gift certificates (DH and I always ask for these so we can go out on dates. Includes babysitting from Nana 🙂
– Care packages ( Last year we got my college age brother a promise of a care package to arrive later in the semester)
Not all of these are necessarily frugal, but they do cut down on the explosion of stuff that tends to occur after the holidays…
Jenetta | Frugal Living Mom says
Experience gifts are my favorite. Every Christmas season I head over to Groupon or Living Social and buy for my family. It’s a great way to get your shopping done quickly, not spend too much and not have to worry about giving people more “stuff”.
Give the gift of babysitting so that a couple can go out for the evening. If you are uncomfortable with taking care of someone else’s children you can volunteer to go to their home after the children’s bedtime and just be there in case one of them wakes up.
Hubby and I do not buy gifts for each other. We take the money we would have spent and use it for experiences through out the year. We are already planning to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra in May for part of this years gift to each other.
Yes, give the gift of babysitting! We had a few friends who gave us certificates for “one free night of babysitting” before we had relatives living nearby. Those are some of the best gifts we have received as a couple/family!