Presents vs Experiences


For the last couple of years, my husband and I have made a conscious effort to give our boys experiences as Christmas gifts instead of toys. We don’t do this to be mean, we do this because we think experiences are much more valuable than a house full of toys.  I would MUCH rather give them an experience that we can do together as a family, than bring another action figure or talking dinosaur into the house that they’ll play with for a week…and then toss aside in their bedroom or playroom.

Now, we know there’s absolutely no way we could ever have a toy-free holiday, and I’m definitely okay with them receiving toys they’ll actually use. We have weekly game nights in our house, so board games are always welcome! They both read before bed every night, so books are a wonderful gift! I’m also okay with video games and Lego because they actually play with those things. (And we play video games WITH them!) But I’m done buying toys for the sake of buying toys. I’m more interested in getting them a couple items that are specific to their actual interests, and then gifting them experiences instead.

I know this might be difficult for some households because let’s be honest, a one or a two year old probably isn’t going to understand that they just got tickets to a waterpark or a zoo instead of an actual physical toy they can play with. But older children will understand, and they’ll appreciate it. It gives them something to look forward to. 

So, if you’d like to give your children more things they can “experience” rather than fill your house with a bunch of toys this Christmas, here are some ideas your kids will probably love!


Sporting Event – Maybe you have a local sports team, or maybe you live within driving distance of the Rogers Centre. Think about buying tickets to a local hockey game or a Jays game and enjoy a fun, family day out. It’s a great experience, and if your kids are sports fans like mine…they’ll LOVE it!  

Waterpark – There’s a couple indoor waterparks within 2-3 hours of our house. Last year, we booked an overnight stay at a hotel that included passes to the waterpark. Our boys LOVE waterslides and swimming, so this gift is always met with giant smiles and cheering!

Concert – Last year, my mother-in-law bought us all tickets to go see a Tim Hicks concert! (my 9 year-old is a HUGE fan!) There was 10 of us in total, and we all went out to dinner together before the concert and had a blast!

Movie Tickets – Cineplex gift cards are ALWAYS welcome gifts at our house. Our boys – and my husband for that matter – are big movie fans, so these will never go to waste. We usually save them up for a movie we all want to see.  It makes for a fun, family date night.

Zoo/Amusement Park – Wrap up tickets to a nearby zoo, amusement park, museum or local annual event in your community.


For most families, this will be likely be a work in progress. But it’s something I think a lot of families – at least quite a few that I’ve talked to – would like to implement. After all, kids don’t really need more toys, do they? Sure, they might want them, but you know what I think they’d want even more? Spending time with YOU. By giving your child an experience this Christmas, you’re really giving them your time.

In my opinion, that’s worth more than any toy.
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Author: Linsey De Ruysscher

Linsey is a happily married mother of two living in Plainfield, ON. When she’s not busy chasing her two crazy boys, she’s running her own freelance writing company, Little Miss Creative. In her downtime, she enjoys tea, backyard BBQs, watching Friends reruns, and hanging out with her family and friends. Oh, and candy.

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