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The Value of Holiday Experiences

Updated December 17, 2019

Claire Roudabush

SDSU Extension 4H Youth Program Advisor - Hamlin & Kingsbury Counties

A mother and two daughters pulling sleds through an open field.

'Tis the season! Usually, this time of the year is full of family, laughter, community, love, and of course, gifts and presents. As we start to head full force into the holiday season, we often think of it as the season for giving, and a little bit of receiving. Many people, especially our farmers and ranchers, are facing some more financial hardships and challenges than they might have ever experienced before. With the status of the economy, it can put a damper on the holiday season and cause some stress when deciding to give gifts this year.

As we think about our best holiday memories, we often do not discuss the items we received, unless it was that one dollhouse you had been waiting for (literally years), but even then it’s just a material possession that is used a few times. Instead, we often think about the experiences we shared with our family and friends during that special season. So why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to get everyone in the family the best and most expensive gifts we can, when they get played with or used a for a few days after opening? More and more people are changing how we give presents. Instead of focusing on the price tag, they are focusing on the experience of the gift.

This might be the year for our families to make changes in the way we gift. Here are a few options that are inexpensive and often more valuable than anything money itself can buy:

  • Purchase a calendar; once a month pick a day and plan a date for your family. It can be taking a day trip to town, attending a concert or festival, going out for a lunch date, taking a trip to the zoo, or even just going to the movies. Spending time with your family is getting harder to do with our busy daily lives; this gift can help make sure that your family is getting some good, valuable quality time together.
  • Make a coupon book. The coupons can be made for anyone in your family, using simple everyday tasks as an option to use a coupon. Simple tasks such as getting out of doing one chore, having your favorite supper made, spending the day watching movies, etc. are great options to help get you started. The possibilities are endless with coupons.
  • Take a day to craft together, making your crafts for someone else in your family. Although crafting can be expensive, it can also be inexpensive by using some of the things you have around the house or go to a local thrift store. Upcycling is a new trend, and even if the product outcome is not perfect, it still was an experience together, and you know the present was made with love.
  • Limit the number of gifts you give. The idea is to have three gifts for every child or even other family members. One gift is an outfit, one is a book, and the final is a gift that they want. This might still be expensive, but it can limit the number of impulse purchases. Any person can take the number of gifts and change it to fit your family’s needs.
  • Take some time as a family to volunteer as a gift to the community. Helping those that are less fortunate than yourself and your family a rewarding experience that is more valuable than a gift. It can teach the importance of community service, as well as, start a new family tradition.

Let's make a push to get away from expensive gift-giving, but get back to the season of family, friends, and the magical experiences that come with the holiday season. Remember, spending time together is valuable, and making those memories can last a lifetime. From my family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful and special holiday season!