For most people, the next three weeks means shopping like crazy to get everyone’s Christmas presents. Many parents of older kids, including myself, are trying to figure out how to reduce the clutter and junk that said gifts eventually turn into. I loathe toys with hundreds of plastic pieces that end up scattered around the house.
Over the past few years, social media has encouraged a movement promoting travel and experience gifts over toys. I am 100% in favor of this!
When my kids were younger, we surprised them around Christmas with a cruise by opening some small DCL-related gifts along with the surprise announcement of the trip (which was a few months away). We’ve also spent a grandparent’s monetary gift on experiences at Medieval Times and Great Wolf Lodge. My kids had a blast and still remember those events!
Yesterday, I was contemplating how to allocate our Christmas gift resources and I decided to ask my kids how they feel about travel and experience gifts vs. toys. Their answers surprised me!
How My Kids Feel About Travel vs. Toys for Gifts
My kids made Amazon wish lists, and we have many ideas of what they would like for Christmas. But last night at dinner, we talked about travel and experience gifts. I asked them if they would rather be gifted a weekend away at some place they were dying to visit or a toy.
All of them said they would rather receive a toy! Why?
Toys are tangible and immediate. They can start playing with them right away on Christmas break. We don’t buy our kids toys during the year, so Christmas and birthdays are their big chances to score new toys.
Trips and experiences are generally delayed. One time we did the experience just a few weeks after Christmas, but sometimes the trips are months later. A few months is a long time for kids.
My kids say that toys last longer than a trip. (I beg to differ. Some of their toys are broken or have pieces missing within DAYS).
The biggest factor for trips vs. toys for my kids is that they know they are spoiled with travel, and that we will travel regardless of whether or not it’s part of a Christmas gift. They are smart. They know I’m not going to stop traveling, and it will always be a part of our lives. So, they’d rather get maximum toys at Christmas.
My kids realize we travel more than most families. They conceded that if they never traveled, getting a cruise gifted for Christmas would be the way to go. But for now, they’d still rather have toys.
But, and that’s a BIG BUT….
I asked my kids if they remembered our first cruise. Even though they were young, they remembered the year, the ship and a lot of details. My middle son spouted off the years we cruised, the years we didn’t cruise and the trips we did in between.
Then, I asked them if they remembered what toys they got for Christmas that same year. Those details were a lot harder to remember. Sure, they remembered a few major toys they received over past Christmases, but not many. And most of those toys are not still around today.
It is well documented that the happiness from experiences lasts longer than the happiness of receiving material things. But as a kid at Christmas, it’s hard to ignore the immediate gratification of getting a new toy.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to family Christmas gifts. If it were up to me, I’d buy just one or two toys per kid and spend the rest on travel and experiences. But, I realize that we need to find the right balance. As our kids grow older, we are at least moving to quality of toys over quantity. I think what matters most is making happy memories together on the holiday, regardless of the gifts.
How do you and your family feel about travel and experience gifts vs. toys? What are your favorite gifts to give and receive?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.