Give Experiences Instead of Gifts This Holiday Season


Tis’ the season for making a list and checking it twice.  In my house, our list includes two winter birthdays, plus the busy holiday season, which means my house explodes with stuff. As an aspiring minimalist, this stresses me out because clutter makes me crazy! So, before I hit all the Black Friday sales I stopped to think about what will make this a memorable time of year for our whole family. The answer I came up with is the experiences that give us time together. So, in the spirit of giving, I’m sharing some great nontraditional gift ideas that will encourage fun, excitement, and a little family bonding this holiday season.

The gift of experiences

  • Memberships – Get a membership to your local aquarium, children’s museum, nature center or park. All of these places are filled with opportunities for creativity and learning about our Charleston community. There is so much here to explore that this will open the whole family’s eyes to all that the Lowcountry encompasses.
  • Subscription Boxes – These are all the rage now and I have to say from experience that they are pretty cool. We have gotten the Kiwi boxes, which arrive at our doorstep full of STEM-related activities that are age appropriate for my children. We’ve built an airplane, made snow, and learned how to make our own exploding volcano, plus all the ingredients are included. One of the gifts we are giving this year is the Radish Box. My daughter really likes to cook and this subscription box includes her own kid-size cooking utensils, along with the recipes and dry ingredients to make each dish. This is a great gift to try as a family! Plus, who doesn’t have a wonderful memory of cooking in the kitchen with someone special during the holidays?
  • Tickets to a show – Buying tickets to a musical, a movie, or a sporting event are a great experience for anyone. They get to go do something out of the ordinary and you get to decide the price point and time frame in which the event happens. In our house, we like to dress up for the occasion with a fancy outfit or our favorite sporting gear, making the time together feel even more special.
  • Create a Coupon Book – Put your crafty skills to work by making a special coupon book filled with ideas your kids have been wanting to do. Putting together this coupon book will let your kids have a little control and will encourage you to say yes and make the time to do the activities they’ve been looking forward to. Some ideas to include are activities like taking a pottery making or painting class, going bowling or ice skating, or choosing a special family activity that you don’t get to do as often as you’d like.
  • Take a Trip – Getting out of the normal routine is part of the fun of the holiday season. With kids having time off from school, this is the perfect time to get out to see something new, eat at a new place or visit someplace different. Whether it be a trip to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, spending an evening seeing the holiday lights, or doing an escape room as a family, there are lots of options to choose from in and around the Charleston area.

If you are looking to have less stuff in your house, use these ideas as suggestions for family members instead of getting gifts for your child. You’ll be amazed at how excited your kids will be. And remember, the most important gift you can give them is time with you, so know that the memories you make doing these things together will last long after all the wrapping paper is recycled!

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A South Carolina native, Erica is originally from the Upstate and has moved back to Charleston with her family after a 10 year, traffic-filled hiatus in Atlanta, GA. Having lived in only two states she likes to explore different cultures through travel and food.  Of all the hats Erica wears her most important roles are as a wife, mother, daughter and fundraiser for her alma mater, College of Charleston. She has been married to her college sweetheart for 13 years and together they have to kiddos that keep them on their toes.  She prides herself on being honest about motherhood and enjoys learning from other moms who tell it like it is. When life offers a little down time Erica enjoys wave jumping at the beach, unapologetically watching bad TV and organizing and re-organizing everything from the dishwasher to the sock drawers to help calm her inner OCD.