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  • HDT Team

For the Holidays: Give the Gift of Memories

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

We just covered how many people are choosing to buy less stuff for the holiday season. We must admit that the tremendous amount of pressure from media, retailers, and social networks, people want to show their love for family and friends without going online or to the department store.

Giving experiences instead of a thing is one way to show those feelings. As an adult, I look back at holiday memories and the ones that stand out the most are taking the time to bake with my grandmother, sledding down giant hills with my sister, or watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on tv.

These memories are focusing on the experiences, not the gifts. I couldn’t tell you what my mom got me when I was seven (but, to be honest, I could tell you that she gave me a Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with light gun and power pad. It was so sweet.) Holiday traditions can still focus on gift giving. It just doesn’t have to be a thing that you give. The dangerous aspect (and where reported stress and frustration is occurring) is when the entire holiday starts to revolve exclusively with making sure everyone has the perfect thing under the tree.

To counter this, maybe consider giving an experience instead of a thing.



Volunteering during the holiday season makes so much difference for you and your community.

There are many organizations that rely on volunteers to execute their mission. If you really want to make your great aunt Martha smile, offer to work a few days a month in her name or, instead set up a volunteer activity the whole family can do together. This can be an amazing gift. Not only will you be giving the family an experience they’ll remember for life, but you’ll be fostering a sense of empathy and compassion for all involved. Volunteer at a local food pantry, help out at a local soup kitchen, visit an assisted living home, bring meals to elderly at their homes, or even put together care packages for families that may need them.

Travel Together

You don’t have to go across the world to create traveling memories. In fact, simply going to a new location (even in your own town), is enough to trigger those smile muscles.

Take your significant other for a hike (if warm enough). You can go to parks that you haven’t been to before. Minnesota has 67 state parks. One of them has to be close by. Explore the beautiful nature and history of the area.

If you want to spend a bit more, there’s no shortage to locations you can go to that may require an overnight stay. Go to amusement parks, national parks, or even a full-on vacation. My wife and I decided to go to Hawaii a few years back and each present given to our kids was a token that helped them put together the puzzle of what the bigger present was. One child received suntan lotion, another a sun hat. They were jazzed for the trip, even though we weren’t going for several months.

Give the Gift of Education

The whole family can enjoy this gift and can be used year-round, sun or rain. Cover the cost of a membership to your local museum or nature center. The quality family time and brain stimulating  adventures will be a win-win for both parent’s and kids.

You can also encourage new learning by, instead of a museum membership, encouraging around the home learning. Give kids packs of seeds to stimulate a passion for gardening. Or, perhaps you have a talent that you can teach your kids. Lessons for guitar or computer programming will give you an opportunity to both spend time together, but also they’ll have a new understanding of a new talent.

These are just a few ideas for experiences instead of stuff for the holiday season. Do you have any experiences you’ve given in the past that would make for a great holiday gift? Let us know if the comments below.


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