The Gift of Experience

The Gift of Experience
Photo credit:
Lauren Condell

For birthdays, anniversaries, employee appreciation, giving the gift of bespoke ‘experiences’ is all the buzz these days.

In my house, we give the gift of experiences at Christmas.

My daughter is still really young, so I’m leaning in hard, making a concerted effort to impress upon her that something as inexplicit as seeing her two families at Christmas is a gift.

Getting to cut down a tree in a wintery forest, a trip to see Zoo lights, a spin around the ice skating rink, all gifts. She won’t remember the Camper Van set of Peppa Pig figurines, but these chilly, goofy, imperfect moments she will have forever.

Here are some simple, cozy experiential ‘gift’ ideas.


By this, I don’t mean a strained effort to buy, bake, and pipe sugary dough balls.

I do mean, inviting your kids to help you make that heirloom dish for the holiday table.

Perch them right on the countertop and let them participate as your favorite songs and sounds of the season float in the air around you. You were going to make that dish anyway, why not hand the recipe down as you make it together?

Cards as Presents

Go on an adventure of picking out or making cards for the people you adore. Color in them, poke glisteny stickers into their folds, and write meaningful words.

Actual, tangible, physical cards are wildly underrated. Send them as gifts.

Charitable Giving

This doesn’t have to mean researching, then painfully finding the time for a family volunteer day at the local soup kitchen, though that is great if you can pull it off.

It can be as effortless as gathering up a laundry basket full of cherished but no longer played- with stuffies, toys, and games and doing a Goodwill store drive-by.

Give it purpose and do it together.


Be precious about your things. After the holiday, whether you got them from great grandma or Big Lots, pack up your pretty things together, with care. Organize them, make a color-coding game as you tuck them back into their boxes; get the label maker out. Make the undoing of decorations an event in itself.

As parents and caregivers, we’re tired. We’re in a constant head fog, it’s noisy. None of these suggestions are easy, but they are simple and they are what really matters.

On Christmas morning, my daughter will have one (interactive, sensory, educational, developmentally spot on) toy to unwrap. (For ideas, see our top picks here)

All the rest of her presents will be faces, places, and the product of loving efforts we make together.

Happy Holidays,


Director of Content, Beanstalk

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