Shaking Up Holiday Gift Giving This Year

Let's do things a little differently this year.



Every year I say the same thing to my husband after Christmas: "Let's not buy as much for the kids next year." Inevitably, I don't listen to my own advice and end up buying them just as much the next year. This year I'm sticking to my guns.


It's important to me to make the holiday season special for my kids. My parents made it a special time for me and my brother growing up. It's tradition. I enjoy decorating the house - inside and out - and planning trips to holiday markets, tree lightings, Santa visits, and parades. We spend many December evenings driving around our city looking at Christmas light displays.


I'm confident that we can still make this Christmas memorable for our kids even if we scale back on the presents. My motivation isn't saving money, although that's a nice side effect of tightening up on the gifts. I'm just sick of buying them stuff that they use once and then forget about.

Last year my oldest played with his Beyblades battle set once then stored it in his closet, never to be touched again. My youngest seemed excited about his Hot Wheels Mario Kart track but tired of it by December 27. They'd rather just play Minecraft on their Nintendo Switch anyway, which is fodder for a whole separate blog post. I'll write it one of these days.


This year I'm doing things differently. I'm thinking outside the box. I refuse to let our house overfloweth with unused and unloved toys. Instead, I'm going with some alternative ideas.


Alternative Holiday Gift Giving Ideas


  • Annual membership to a local attraction. Maybe your city has a good zoo or an amazing aquarium. Maybe your kids would like to go to your local children's museum on a regular basis. Think of what you guys like to do anyway, then get a pass for a whole year's worth of trips.

  • Access to a special experience. Years ago we got my mom tickets to drive a race car around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Despite having no interest in NASCAR, my mom was super interested in driving fast as hell around the track. She says it's an experience she'll never forget. Other ideas include a hot air balloon ride or scenic biplane flight.

  • Concert or theater tickets. The lovely thing about gifting tickets is that you're often gifting yourself, too. It would be weird to buy your loved one a single ticket. Concert or theater tickets must come in pairs! And if you have no interest in using the second ticket, you'll be seen as the hero who treated your loved ones' friend to a show. Win-win. Wins all around!

  • Get crafty. I say get crafty, but proceed with caution. I love doing DIY craft projects but they don't always turn out as lovely as depicted on Pinterest. Some of them have been downright embarrassing and I'd never wish them on another human being. A homemade present is special as long as it's well done and something your loved one actually wants or would use.

  • Date night. Treat your partner, friend, or kid to a one-on-one date night. To me, quality time is a gift in itself. It's my most dominant love language and how I like to show my affection for others. My kids live for solo dates with mom or dad; they also live for gloating about it afterwards to their sibling. We don't usually do anything too elaborate, just dinner and a movie, but the time spent together is refreshing and important.

  • Want, Need, Wear, Read. This has been a popular gift giving policy as of late. It helps downsize the madness that is the holidays. The concept is simple: you buy your loved ones something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Four gifts. That's it. Make sure you let them know the policy beforehand so they can adjust their expectations.

  • Take a class together. Want to learn to salsa dance? Interested in honing your culinary skills? Combine learning and quality time by taking a class with your loved one. Local art studios sometimes offer painting and photography classes. Adult education programs often provide many different options such as calligraphy class, paddle boarding lessons, and water aerobics. And occasionally basket weaving!

  • Subscription boxes. I love subscription boxes because of the anticipation: what will I find inside?! What will they send me this month?! Nowadays there are monthly boxes for nearly any interest you can think of. I've seen boxes for hot sauce lovers, bibliophiles, fans of Japanese candy, and toilet paper aficionados. Seriously, there's something for everyone.

  • A fabulous getaway. Get out of town! I would absolutely love to be gifted a trip for Christmas. Trips don't have to be too expensive. A weekend away in an affordable Airbnb sounds delightful after having been stuck in our house during the pandemic. An all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean sounds even better, but I'm not choosy. I'll go wherever you'll take me.

I'd love to hear if you end up trying any of these suggestions and how it goes over with your family and friends! Happy Holidays!


XO, Snark Mom