The family I had the privilege of marrying into is so stinking special. And Christmas is one of the many times throughout the year that their uniqueness is highlighted to me! Why so special, and why during Christmas, you ask? Girlfriend, let me tell you.
Besides the fact that this Columbian family can COOK (my tummy is grumbling just with the thought of it), they give experiences instead of "things"! So as nearly 20 of us gather together at a log cabin in the mountains of Tennessee this year (I promise, every one is doing their part to come healthy and germ free) instead of exchanging way too many gifts of material things that won't matter much to us this time next year, we'll work on creating memories with and for each other.
The advantages to this kind of gifting include (but are not limited to):
1) the potential for money savings
2) decreased stress trying to pick the perfect gift for people who already have more than they need
3) fostering a heart and mindset that dispel the lie that "things" make a heart content and happy
4) the collective creativity within each family as you come up with your gift experience each year
5) the time spent present and engaged with one another, instead of individually enjoying a gifted "thing"
Here are some ideas that you can give as experiences when you're gathered together this Christmas!
1) Gingerbread House Competition: Organize everyone into teams, provide the necessary building supplies, and let everyone have at it! Set a timer, and at the end, have 1 or 2 people (that were not on teams...maybe this is you if you are the gift giver) be the judge! You can judge based on creativity, execution, and presentation! Winning team gets a prize like a box of gingerbread cookies and some cider!
2) Scavenger Hunt: Once again, organize everyone into teams. The scavenger hunt can take place in your town, in your neighborhood, or just in your home! First team to complete the scavenger hunt wins some yummy snacks to refuel after their hard work. This will take a little prep time but so worth it.
3) Christmas Movie Night: This one couldn't be easier. Have everyone vote on a movie and you secure the means of watching it. Provide individual popcorn, cokes, and candy, as if you were in a theater (this is movie night 2020 edition).
4) Cookie Decorating Lessons: If you've got any skill like this, or even if you don't (hello YouTube), buy the necessary things for everyone to decorate cookies. It's easy to shove a bunch of different cookies on a baking sheet or two and toss it in the over. Once done, enjoy partaking in everyone's creations! You can even award prizes for creativity, taste, or mastery.
5) Christmas Light Viewing: Map out a Christmas light tour route, or find a light show in your area, grab travel cups, hot chocolate, a music playlist, and pile up in the car for a night of dazzling! This is easy, inexpensive, and fun for any age.
6) Christmas Shirt Decorating: Instead of ugly Christmas sweaters, buy solid tee shirts or sweatshirts from Walmart, and all of the annoying craft supplies. Make a spread on the table and let everyone have at it! Once shirts are done and dry, maybe have a fashion show for the entire family. For fun, you can award on craftsmanship, use of supplies, design.
7) Christmas Karaoke: If you need a laugh, this just might be it! It's easy to set up, gets everyone involved, and can bring some Christmas cheer. You can even allow participation in groups! Allow individuals/groups to choose their song early and practice their performance beforehand! Winner gets to choose dinner that night!
8) Minute to Win It Game: A quick google search can give you so many ideas for some Christmas Minute to Win It games. Once again, many laughs, not much expenditure, all ages can be involved, and something everyone can look forward to! I can't recommend this enough.
Giving the gift of experience can look different for each family. We only gift these experiences every other year as we are together (the off years we all send pretty little Christmas cards and virtual hugs and kisses). But this tradition can even be done from a distance!
Some ideas for distance experience giving:
1) A yearly membership to the zoo (obviously ideal for families with children)
2) Send a movie with a box of goodies to enjoy a movie night
3) Send a bag of yummy bread mix, some specialty tea, and some new tea cups for a homemade tea time
4) DoorDash or Postmates a meal from their favorite restaurant
5) Send some supplies to make gingerbread houses as a family!
Have fun getting creative! I guarantee this kind of giving will create memories that will last for years to come. Twenty years from now when you are getting together, you likely won't remember the gifts wrapped under the tree, but you will be talking about that hilarious sweatshirt Uncle Bob decorated and won the fashion show with. Yeeeess. Too good to miss out on, sis.