How to Ask for Experience Gifts for the Holidays

You’ve decided you want your children to receive some experience gifts rather than material goods for the holidays; that’s great! Maybe you’re overwhelmed with toys already in your house and you can’t bear the thought of adding more to the chaos. Maybe you’re concerned for the environment and would rather your child not receive plastic toys they’ll probably play with for ten minutes and then toss aside.

Or, maybe you have everything you need and you’d rather spend time with loved ones than have them try to pick out something for you. Whatever the reason, now is a good time to start talking about the concept with people–ahead of the holidays. If you’re uncomfortable starting this conversation though, you’re not alone.

I’ve talked to many parents who are worried that their loved ones will not be receptive to the idea, especially if certain traditions are hard-wired into their family. Often, people want to have the conversation but aren’t sure how to raise the topic without sounding demanding. However, I have found that if you ground the conversation in your reasons for wanting experience gifts and center it on appreciation for whatever the gift-giver ultimately chooses to do, it is a worthwhile conversation to have. People may surprise you!

Experience Gift Conversation Starters

Once you know you want to talk with someone about experiences as gifts, here are some ideas for how to get the conversation started:

  • “Hey! With the holidays coming up, I wanted to talk about the idea of giving my child an experience as a gift instead of a toy.”
  • “Have you heard that a popular thing for holiday gifts now is to give experiences instead of a ton of toys? I think it’s such a great concept! What do you think?”
  • “I know you love quality time with my child, and so does she! What do you think about giving her an experience as a gift this holiday so you can spend more time together?”
  • “I’ve been thinking lately that what I want most for the holidays is just some time to hang out with you kid-free. What do you think about doing a girls night as our holiday gift to each other this year?”

After you’ve broached the topic, it’s important to explain why you want experience gifts. Explaining your reasoning will help your loved one understand where you’re coming from, and will probably help them agree to the idea, too.

Don’t Forget to Say . . .

These key pieces of information are also important to include in the conversation:

  • Some ideas for experiences! I’ve found it helpful to give people a list of options to choose from rather than dictating exactly what it is that we want. This gives them the experience of “shopping” for your child, which they may still enjoy.
  • A comment of understanding that whatever they ultimately choose–even if it isn’t an experience–you and your child are both very appreciative of the gift.

How It Worked for Me

Even as a self-proclaimed minimalist, it took me a few years after my daughter was born to start asking family members for experiences as gifts because I was nervous about how people would react. At first, I found that family members were hesitant because they were so used to getting toys as holiday gifts. “I want her to have something to play with at the party!” they protested.

I didn’t push too hard after these initial denials. Instead, I brought the topic up again at an upcoming birthday and again the following holiday season. One of my daughter’s aunts decided to take me up on the idea, and it went extremely well! My daughter loved the zoo membership and we included the gift-giver in one of our trips there. When other family members saw this success, they jumped on board, too. 

Now, my children receive a number of experience gifts combined with a few toys at the holidays. They know when they open a certificate for an experience to look forward to a fun outing ahead and are still just as excited and appreciative to receive the gift. I’ve pumped the idea up a lot for them and had multiple conversations about how “so-and-so got you this membership for Christmas, remember?!” They talk often about the fun they’ve had on these excursions with their family members, and it’s so great to know they love the gifts too.

So give it a try. Tell yourself you’ll start with one or two family members and take it from there. You may just find that people are receptive right away. And if they’re not, don’t worry. With time, they may come around to the idea, too.

For more tips on managing all the “stuff” of the holiday season, read one minimalist mama’s tips on navigating the stress of the season.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.