Last week we took our kids to New York for a few days in conjunction with my travel for a conference. The highlight of the trip was getting to see “Hamilton” on Broadway. As I talked to friends about how we have started buying our kids tickets for events as gifts, I kept hearing the same thing back from parents with older kids. At a certain point, spending money on having experiences as a family is more important in the long run than spending money on “stuff” that they will eventually throw away or outgrow.
Giving the Gift of an Experience
Whether you are buying Christmas gifts or a graduation present or even stuffing an Easter basket, consider the types of experiences you can buy for people where the memories will last longer than the amount of time it takes to tear open the paper.
Sporting Events: Whether it’s your local AAA baseball team or your favorite NFL team, going to see a game together can be great bonding experience. This is especially true when the event isn’t just about the game but also visiting the stadium, tailgating, etc. You can bundle up tickets to the game with a t-shirt for the team so everyone can be a true fan.
Concerts and Theatre: This is a big one in our house. We’ve bought tickets for local productions as well as Broadway plays and given them as gifts. My husband even bought me tickets to see Billy Joel for my 40th birthday. It’s one of the only gifts that I can say with certainly that I remember getting from him over the years because it was someone I wanted to see so badly.
Vacations: Obviously this one is a lot bigger but consider a family trip instead of Christmas gifts. Wake up Christmas morning and give the kids clues about where they are headed and instructions on what to pack. I’ve heard people do this a lot for Disney, but it could just as easily be a weekend at a bed and breakfast for your anniversary or a roadtrip to the beach. Whether you take the trip immediately or everyone has time to get ready for it, it’s a wonderful alternative to buying presents just to buy them.
Memberships: There are so many membership opportunities that give the recipient an entire year worth of experiences. It may be to the zoo, a museum, or even laser tag. Find a place where your family can visit enough times to make the membership worth the price. Not only will it make a great gift but it will also give you a reason to keep using it throughout the whole year and spending time together.
Looking for Discounts
All of the things I listed above can get expensive but do not have to be. Here are some places you can look to for savings.
Groupon: Groupon VERY often has tickets at half price for local concerts, activities, and even vacation destinations. Sometimes just browsing through the site will give you ideas. Also watch for when they run 10-20% off coupons for local deals.
ScoreBig.com: If you want discounted tickets, always check ScoreBig first. I start with where I want to go and then scroll through to see what they have in the area. Once you click on the event, you can specify the quantity and then slide the price to the maximum that you want to pay. One great example I found today was Disney On Ice tickets in the lower section for only $12.
Sunshine Rewards: If you are going to pay full price, you might as well get cash back. Use it for airfare, tickets, gift cards, Vegas shows, tours, and just about everything else you can think of. My current favorite are the Viator coupons.
Do you like to give experiences more than gifts? What are your favorites?