Jump to content
No more plastic! Christmas “Experience” Giving instead.
8 replies to this topic
Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:17 PM
Have you ever felt the urge to pepper spray a fellow shopper so you could secure yourself a discounted Xbox? It’s happened. “Only in America” we love to say and have a cocky chuckle comforted by the knowledge that we are vastly more laid back and reasonable here in Australia.
But are we?
As Christmas fast approaches and my shopping list magically grows longer rather than shorter, as I add in all the people I’d forgotten such as childcare staff, swimming teachers and neighbours, I wonder if perhaps the accumulation of stuff is sending us mad. Elbowing people out of the way to save $30 on a dollhouse, or queuing for country miles to fight off the competition for a remote control Batmobile, is not really my thing. I’ve turned to online shopping to avoid the crowds but this has also made me less mindful of the senseless consumerism. At least walking around the shops at Christmas crazy time with arms full of bags and fed-up feet reminds me that perhaps I need to slow down, to cut down, to think of the environment, to think of others less fortunate. Not to mention, the state of my loungeroom floor after the Christmas morning present massacre is over in a spray of paper and annoying plastic wire bits in a total of fifteen minutes. That old chestnut: less is more and be kind to your feet.
Look, I love a gift as much as the next person. I also adore watching my children’s eye widen to ten times their natural size when they unwrap a much-longed-for present. I remember that anticipation as a child, as Christmas morning finally came and that bulging stocking beckoned.
What I don’t love is the packaging that requires commercial sized bolt cutters to open anything, the paper, the cost, the plastic, the “what next?” and the dirty feeling that overconsumption gives you, like when you gorge on fast food, later bemoaning the decision when your stomach is churning.
In recent years, my family has started the idea of “experience giving”. This is often combined with a physical gift that can be unwrapped – something small and token, because writing on a card doesn’t quite have the impact for a five year old that a box and toy do.
My children relish the idea of being taken, as a single entity with complete and full attention from someone other than their parents to a place they don’t visit often. The zoo, the aquarium, the museum, or simply fish and chips dinner on the beach; for children, a special day that is devoted to them is memory making. It will remain long after the plastic fantastic breaks.
It also teaches them the golden nugget of patience. A gift of experience is something to look forward to, a reason to cross days off the calendar as the excitement grows. For the parent, it is one less child for a few hours – now that is worth more to me than an award-winning prestige Barbie in a ball gown.
The problem is, experience giving is time consuming. We need to find a block in our schedules and give the gift of ourselves. It can be costly if you include food, entry fees and transport. But it doesn’t have to be. And given the cash we part with (or should I say credit that we can now wave over a screen to pay for things) surely the gift of experience is worth that same money?
Experience giving is thought provoking. It forces us to think about the person we are buying for in a way that tangible present giving does not. Naturally you can’t give everyone on your list an “experience” but even cutting down on what we buy if only to lessen the crap we need to then buy storage for, will make Christmas more meaningful.
We are a world of intelligent and creative people whom I’m certain can share our skills. A budding family photographer can help other family members learn how to take great photos by an outing to a forest or local landscape. Someone with an eye for gardening may come and help plan out your landscaping and take you to the nursery to choose some plants. A trip to the mineral springs, just you and your sister to soak away the year’s stresses? Bliss. A golf game with your brother, followed by lunch and a beer at a nearby watering hole – things we don’t get to do much as we become parents. A stint of babysitting while you send the parents off on a picnic with a basket full of goodies you’ve packed may be a gift long remembered after the food has been digested.
And for the kids, a grandmother who can knit can take a grandchild to a wool shop, buy some special rainbow wool and knitting needles and teach them to knit a scarf, perhaps baking some scones for afternoon tea. Granddad building a magnificent piece of woodwork with his grandson from some leftover wood scraps? Maybe his own little hammer to take home? Priceless. An aunt taking the niece/nephews to a make-your-own-pottery place followed by an ice cream may well have more impact than a ceramic cat from the $2 shop.
It’s not so much going organic as it is thinking laterally. What I want for my children is individuality – to build upon themselves. To therefore own what every second kid on the block owns is not really anything to aspire to. I concede that for children, fitting in and obtaining the ultimate gift that they’ve dreamt about is something we cannot ignore. Yet teaching and surprising our children and loved ones with adventures and experiences they didn’t even know they wanted feels significantly more fulfilling.
In the wise words of Dr Seuss: “Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Have you ever given an “experience” as a gift? How was it received?
This is my last column for 2012. Thank you again to all the wonderful EB & EK readers for your interest, support and involvement in the topics we’ve discussed and debated throughout the year. Stay safe and try and steal some time to relax over Christmas with your families. I look forward to chatting again in 2013.
Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:57 PM
as I add in all the people I’d forgotten, such as childcare staff, swimming teachers and neighbours,
Do most people actually buy gifts for all these extras?
Edited by JBaby, 04 December 2012 - 04:13 PM.
Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:10 PM
Not a new concept here. We've always tried to avoid the trashy plastic crap, we try to live very minimally, we try to consider the environment and experience gifts and handmade gifts tick all the boxes.
There are quite a large number of Americans who have to live very frugally and are also moving away from buying, buying, buying.
The US show 'consumed' is fantastic, it shows families surrounded by "stuff" in their homes, they take everything away except beds, eating utensils and a few favourite things and the families live like that for 30 days then choose what they'd like to come back into the house, it's interesting that most of them choose to bring very little back in.
I received a token booklet from my kids one year for Mothers Day, they handmade it and it contained all sorts of vouchers eg we will make mums bed today or we will do all the washing for mum today. So I could pull one out the book and hand it to them any day throughout the year.
I know one family whose Mum loved egyptian things so on the morning of her birthday they covered her lawn in mummys, pharoahs heads, cats etc all made from paper mache and painted. So cool.
Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:50 PM
Sounds like a really interesting show, Mummyone1. I love the voucher booklet - I just wonder if my kids would actually come through with the goods when I wanted to "redeem"! The paper mache creation is impressive.
JBaby - yes, most people I know buy something token for the main teachers (childcare, school, sports) in their lives, even if it is just a box of chocolates. My neighbours are also my friends so I guess that may be more a friendship present. All the same, it does start to add up to a lot when you have four children!
Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:19 AM
My husband is getting an experience gift this year. Our children are still a bit young (nearly three and 15 months). He is going to climb Kilimanjaro. We live in Zambia, so it is not too far away. I know it is something he has always wanted to do but would never justify spending on himself. Especially now that we have children, I know he would always choose a family holiday.
I always feel like it is important not to lose yourself in having children and I am so excited for him to be able to do this for himself and have this experience.
As our children get older, I expect experience gifts will become the norm for them, too.
Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:38 AM
I love the idea of experience giving. We used to make christmas cake offerings packaged for close friends as presents when we didn't have much money to go around.
These days life is so busy to do these things. Definitely will have to have a think about what we could do!
I find I always overspend buying presents, usually don't have enough when it comes to stocktake season. So last night I started to spreadsheet my gift spending. Pretty good to keep a list of names, add a budget then plan what to get / make.
This year, I'm using this new thing to tag the gifts I buy, way easier than spreadsheets. Have a look [link removed by Moderator]
Either way, I think generosity just needs to get financially smarter.
Edited by Chelli, 18 December 2012 - 07:15 PM.
Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:28 AM
I totally agree with the whole thing of giving experiences as gifts.
However my MIL does not- and showers the kids with LOTS of plastic toys. It's useless talking to her about it - I tried once and it actually made matters worse :-0
My hubby and I were discussing when the kids are older we will just do experiences but we will decide what to do as a family
Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:38 AM
My children only get toys for Christmas and their birthdays and we have family experiences throughout the year. My kids love all the experiences we have together but they would be mighty disappointed if they never got any toys. They are still children after all.
With everything its all about moderation and doing things that suit your family (and budget)
Edited by Bam1, 20 December 2012 - 11:38 AM.
Posted 31 December 2012 - 09:08 PM
It's a lovely idea! Consumerism has gone crazy and over the last few years. I've had years of dreading Christmas and the costs it entails and spending hard-earned money on unwanted gifts. I nor my two now adult children do not have bottom-less wallets with which to purchase Xmas gifts. Three years ago, we all agreed on a £20 limit (approx Au$36). Over the course of the year, we create a wishlist on Amazon and the aim is to acquire as much on the list as possible wihout going the £20 limit. Impossible? Actually, it's quite easy but you need time to plan. We don't care if the item is 2nd-hand so we scour the charity shops (Op-shops), Amazon marketplace and Ebay. This year I managed to buy 6 books (two were unread 2nd-hand) and 2x2nd-hand brand-new DVDs for my daughter with change to spare. It's not quite the same thing as the "Experience" idea but it means we all appreciate much more the act of giving a bit more without breaking the bank. Additionally, we are recycling, thus helping the planet.
2 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 2 guests, 0 anonymous users
The Essential Baby & Toddler Show is back this April! Save $8 off the door price for a limited time only!
Sometimes the greatest baby name ideas come from the most unexpected places, as these EB members show.
While we often think of pregnancy as a 40 week affair, experts agree that 37 weeks is actually “full term". So is there an argument for inducing all births at 37 weeks?
Controlled-crying techniques may help some babies sleep through the night, but for many exhausted new parents, it's just a recipe for more tears all round.
As people become more aware of these benefits, I hope more parents will practice this method, so we can cut down on nappies and improve baby bonding.
Aussie actress Emily Symons has announced she is pregnant with her first baby.
A little girl will grow up without her father after the fit and healthy 34-year-old passed away while doing something he had practised his whole life.
You could be doing yourself a disservice by encouraging your toddler to have an afternoon nap, according to new research.
We've compiled a guide to some of the most popular presents for newborns and new mums, and for christenings and naming days.
Actress Jaime King is pregnant with her second child, giving 16-month-old James a sibling.
The Abbott government should extend funding to nannies, and direct childcare payments to low and middle income families, a landmark study on childcare has found.
As many as one in two newborn babies suffer from skin irritations in their first few weeks. So what are the most common rashes and irritations to look out for?
Wall decals are the answer to creating a beautiful nursery or children's space without lifting a paint brush, a spirit level or even a hammer.
Three-year-old Cain Trainor headed off home after his first day at a new preschool without telling anyone.
In spite of being in an almost constant state of motion while looking after the kids and trying to keep things together at home, it can seem as though parents have managed to get nothing on the to-do list done by the end of the day.
The middle name is no longer an afterthought, and parents' inspiration comes from many places.
A new IVF scheme offers couples the chance to fall pregnant and give birth - or get their money back. But there's more to it than you might think.
A baby born still inside the amniotic sac gave US doctors a rare glimpse at life inside the womb.
Three years ago Jason Hughes viciously attacked his ex-partner. Now she has to write to him three times a year.
A West Australian woman will fight allegations that she scammed expectant mums by selling them fake ultrasound pictures of babies.
Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.
Top 5 Articles
A Sydney mother who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a car while pushing her newborn baby in a pram has reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the driver's insurance company.
A culturally sensitive midwifery service has gained the trust and respect of Aboriginal women.
Most mums-to-be plan to take things easy and perhaps have a little break from work as the birth of their baby draws near. Not Kate McCartney.
Announcing that you're expecting can be a time to express your creativity, sense of humour and imagination. Check out how other parents and parents-to-be have broken the news to friends and family.
Last week an un-retouched photo of model Cindy Crawford surfaced, showing the 48-year-old mother-of -two posing in underwear.
Thought your toddler could not love pancakes any more than they already do? How about if the breakfast treat came in the shape of every two-year-old's favourite cartoon character?
I thought I was never going to be able to have a successful pregnancy. I decided that I wasn't going to form an emotional attachment with this baby.
February 18 marks the start of one of the most prolific annual baby competitions in Australia: the Bonds Baby Search. And this year is going to be more special than ever.
This is not something that people like to talk about, but Facebook has announced that it will grant users more control over what happens to their pages after they die.
Mother of four Marie Holmes was financially struggling after quitting her jobs at Walmart and McDonald's in order to care for her children.
A first-time mother whose daughter died hours after her frightening birth insists she was never told of the risks of being obese and pregnant.
She has labelled parents who do not vaccinate their children "misinformed imbeciles" - and for that, she makes no apologies.
Are you one of those that know the whole IKEA catalogue by heart? Love their stuff but want to personalise it? Here's some inspiration to help you realise the potential of IKEA furniture and fittings.
I never thought I’d say this, but for a brief moment last week, Kim Kardashian and I had something in common: both our kids had public tantrums.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female hormonal condition, affecting roughly one in 12 Australian women.
If doing it on your back is out, what's the best position for labour and birth?
With Valentine's Day coming up, Nat Gilbert could be forgiven for thinking her husband might be planning a surprise for her.
We usually only hear the success stories: tales of the two-year-old who’s talking, running and completely toilet trained. But other stories need to be told too.
Sarah Kiss has a word of advice for proud mums and dads who are keen to enter their babies in this year's Bonds Baby Search Competition - just have fun.
If your family needs to go to sleep school, go with them. You are part of that family and you are part of the solution.
A French court may have ruled out Nutella as a baby name, but that doesn't have to stop you from taking inspiration from the supermarket (or bottle shop). See what parents in the US have chosen for their delicious little ones.
Check out this range of products designed to help make your breastfeeding journey more enjoyable, manageable and convenient.
Win a KitchenAid Mixer
To celebrate, and to thank our amazing fans, we?re giving away a KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer.