Guest post from Micah of Home Faith Family:
For my fifth birthday, my dad gave me a choice between two birthday presents.
- A traditional gift.
- A daddy-daughter date with no other siblings to come along.
Coming from a family of seven, there was never alone time… and as a little girl, I was practically my dad’s shadow, so naturally, I chose the date with him.
Fast-forward a few decades later, my husband found himself unemployed after leaving law school, and our family finances were tighter than a knot.
Our children had birthdays coming up, and we felt guilty knowing we wouldn’t be able to buy them the toys they were eyeing at the store.
As my husband and I discussed what to do for our children so they wouldn’t feel neglected on their birthdays, the memory of my father’s date came to mind.
I shared the experience with my husband and we decided to try to give experiences to our children instead of gifts.
Our little ones had SO much fun that this has been their birthday gifts ever since!
5 Experience Gifts For A Non-Existing Budget:
I completely understand that a tight budget can be tricky when dealing with experience gifts. In these situations, I’ve found that creativity is my best friend!
1.Use the seasons to your advantage.
Is it winter? Use a trash can lid to go sledding. Are you enjoying summer time? Pick wildflowers together and have a contest to see who can make the most creative headband with the flowers.
2. Have a puddle splashing contest to see who can make the biggest splash.
This one was a hit with our little boy who loves the outdoors. Just make sure you have a lot of clean towels nearby for when you’re done!
3. Take dancing lessons together using YouTube and have a dance party at home.
Use what you have around your home to decorate the dining room or living room for when it’s time to dance.
4. Go on a nature walk and skip rocks in the river.
5. Take your child on a “tour of their life” in your local town.
Drive them to where they were born, places that have meaning to them and share your feelings and experiences with them on how much they mean to you. If you do this option, be sure to have a recorder going so you can write these stories down to give to your child later.
5 Experience Gifts When You Have a Little Money to Spare:
When you can budget the experiences, you want to gift your children, you’ll be able to cater to their interest and needs more.
1. Something they love more than anything.
Maybe they’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player… go enjoy a day at the ballpark.
Or perhaps they want to be a ballerina on ice skates… take them ice skating.
2. Cooking Classes.
Sign-up and take a cooking class together and then step back and let your child take the lead. You might be surprised at how well they do in the kitchen.
3. Music Lessons.
Does your son or daughter want to learn how to play a certain instrument? Sign them up for music lessons. If you can afford the lessons but can’t buy the instrument, there are places you can rent instruments from, whether this is the music store or your child’s school.
4. Museum Day Date.
Get lost together exploring the wonders of the world, learning about science, planet Earth, history, or anything else your child has an interest in.
5. Day Away With a Friend.
If your child has no interest in doing a one-on-one date, offer to take them and their friends to a trampoline park, a panic-puzzle room, or another fun, group party place where they can have a blast with their friends and family.
I promise (from experience) that children will rarely remember the gifts they receive on their birthday. But they WILL remember the time you spent with them and the memories you helped create.
Toys will eventually break, electronics will quickly become outdated, but the pictures you take and the laughter you share will be something you two can hold onto for a lifetime!
Have you ever been gifted with an experience gift?
Share it with us in the comments below… as well as why you loved this gift so much!
Micah Klug loves being a mother and helping other women DIY their home on a budget, grow their faith in Christ, love their marriage, and strengthen their family relationships by living simply without losing their quality of life or sanity. She writes at Home Faith Family, where you can download your free marriage ebook, “Love Again: 100+ Conversation Questions to Strengthen Your Relationship.”
This was definitely our go to before Covid. My favorite of all time was an octopus encounter when my oldest turned 9. This year we are going to all do an escape room as a family.
This is such a great idea! -Jordan, MSM Team
This is more on the expensive side, but one year my grandma gave each of her granddaughters a ticket to the nutcracker ballet. It has always been one of my favorite memories and gifts that she has given me.
This year we surprised my five year old with a trip to a Merry-Go-Round (her first time). We took lots of photos and she’s still talking about it.
Also, Grandma gives us an annual family zoo pass for Christmas. That gift keeps on giving all year!
I love all your ideas for experience gifts. Thank you for sharing!
Julie G says
I’m a grandma and I have come up with a unique way to spend time 1 on 1 with my grandchildren. We do a “Redeeming Day”. That is a day that I take my free coupons and we go out and redeem them. We also stop at the local chocolate factory (free samples) and do the half price milk shakes at Steak and Shake.
I love this!! -Meg, MSM Team
We started asking for experience gifts about 10 years ago. The time together with family has meant more to me than anything else. For the past few years, we’ve been given a year membership to the Zoo. It’s been great. I’m going to hint at the science museum next year just to change things up a bit!
Many museums have free days or free times each week. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, those were and still are my favorite ways to go. We would go once a month or so and focus on a different area in the museum each time until we had our favorites so we could visit them frequently.
We have done zoo trips as combined birthday present with kids.
Micah | Home Faith Family says
Zoo trips are always fun. There is plenty to see and always something new when you go. =D
Took my girls to see Mercy Me last Christmas. This year we are going to see Lauren Daigle and my grand daughter gets to come too this year
We stop doing birthday gifts for our kids years ago and instead buy a museum membership around $70 to our local Science Museum. This membership also works at all museums across the United States, 7 which are close to us so the children get to pick a location for their birthday and we go take a weekend trip to that museum and have a special dinner out so the entire family gets to enjoy.
Micah | Home Faith Family says
I want to be adopted into your family! Those trips sound so exciting! I love that you give your children the choice and make the trip into a fun weekend adventure. This makes the experience that much more special because it’s something they chose. Thanks for sharing!
Paul Hurwitz says
My kids only ask my in-laws for experience presents. They love going to a museum and dinner with their grandparents.
For my older kids, during the summer I take each one to work for a day and take half the day off to do something fun with them in NYC. They love it.
Micah | Home Faith Family says
That’s so awesome that the grandparents are involved in this way! I can only imagine the fun memories they are making with them, and you as they spend time at your work and for your special days together.