If you have kids, chances are you are just swimming in stuff: stuffed animals, figures, art supplies, and cardboard box spaceships. We have so many toys between new things and the things we inherited from my kids’ grandparents. Half the time, kids don’t even remember them. So many toys just get put in boxes, which quickly fill up. Each holiday and birthday, we accumulate even more stuff. It can be a bit daunting.
Instead of buying more stuff, we are looking at more vacation or experienced-based gifts. Consider giving your kids vacations and experiences this holiday season instead of more toys. They’ll get plenty of those from others anyway, and they don’t make anyone happier. Experts say that experiences are better for kids’ development. According to a 2017 study by Sage Journal, people connect feelings of love with experiences instead of just tangible gifts. This conclusion can be extended to children as well. In addition to feeling loved, these gifts have many benefits over the traditional material ones.1
Benefits of Vacation/Experience Gifts
Experiences encourage brain development.
According to an article from child psychologist Dr. Margot Sunderland, vacations improve brain development in children through more interactive play and new experiences. These are also known as the play system and the seeking system. These experiences enhance a child’s curiosity and encourage learning, which helps the frontal lobes mature. The frontal lobes are the parts of the brain in charge of cognitive functioning, social intelligence, and goal-directed behaviors.2
They give you family time and the opportunity to enhance relationships.
According to another Telegraph article by Hattie Garlick, there is further science as to why you should spend money on family vacations instead of toys. Even though the advertising industry strives to tell us differently, kids may not value toys as much as we think they do. So many toys are easily forgotten, but getting to spend more time with their parents is something that kids value more. Between parents working and kids going to school, they often don’t get to see us as much as they want to. We can strengthen our relationships when we can truly focus on our families.3
Experiences help families build memories together.
When you reflect on your childhood, you may remember certain toys fondly, but most are memories. When I reflect on special times with my grandparents, I have no idea what they gave me as gifts. The memories of spending time together are what your kids will treasure when they get older.
They are great at reducing stress.
Everyday life can be stressful for both adults and children. You and your child can reap the benefits by getting away from the routine and the stress. Kids have to deal with parental, school, and social expectations. They are often overscheduled. This time away helps kids be kids again. They can relax and reduce stress making vacations a great way to help your children feel happy. When a parent is less stressed, it can also make your interactions with your children better.
Experiences encourage learning new things.
Kids are giant sponges, and they will learn so much when you take them on vacation. They see places for the first time and pay attention to details you might not even notice. Kids also get a chance to see the differences around the world and realize that the world is so much bigger than they thought. These new ideas and perceptions will help them mature.
Also, gifting your child experiences doesn’t have to be just vacations. You can also gift them:
- season passes to your local zoo
- tickets to the ballet
- gift cards to the movie theater
- season passes to the children’s museum or any museum
- bowling passes
- guitar or piano lessons
- ice skating passes
- Disney tickets
- hot air balloon ride
- subscription boxes for kids
There are lots of ideas that they can enjoy, learn, and benefit from.
You are not putting so much value on material things.
We tend to put too much value on material objects when what matters most is family and spending time together. Taking your kids on vacation or enjoying an activity will show them how much more fun this can be than getting toys. Getting out into new locations and trying new things will excite them more than any new toy ever could. The change of scenery will benefit the whole family, and your kids will get to try something new.
You will enjoy less clutter and more space to do things.
Another great benefit of giving experiences instead of material presents is that it can help declutter your home. Finding where to put all the new stuff they aren’t using can add stress. I always have problems figuring out where to put all the new stuff. If we are low on space, the kids need to get rid of old toys, which could add stress too. By not adding more stuff to the clutter, you will have more space to do fun things and more things you can experience together.
After the couple of years we’ve had, going on a vacation or enjoying a new activity together could be a great option. There are many places and experiences that you can still consider. Even something simple can still add great value to your kids’ holiday.