I did something drastic to my kids last Christmas and didn’t give them presents. Okay, I gave them a few essential items. But, instead of gifting the never-ending list of toys that are usually forgotten at the end of the month, my husband and I gifted our children with adventures to last the year.
Last year Mommy Convos published several articles, one about my impressions of planning a Christmas as a minimalist and another article on how to gift items that aren’t toys here. In fact, Jennica’s recently published another article about true minimalism and how to achieve the minimalism journey with 10 goals here. Today this article is a report on our yearly experience doing the Family Adventure Coupon Book and why I’d like to continue this tradition this year. But first, the challenges of the coupon book…
Family: My kids are blessed with lots of family: Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles. They want to gift my children with items and for that, I am so thankful, but with a small space, the toy-clutter becomes unbearable sometimes. The biggest challenge we faced with our “gifting adventure and memories over gifts” is getting the rest of the family to follow suit. So the compromise? My husband and I gift adventures and memories and let the extended family gift how they choose.
Santa: This may seem like a challenge, but how we’ve worked the system from day one has not created a problem for our family. Santa gifts are usually left on the couch Christmas morning with their Santa Boot filled with goodies. And the presents under the tree are from the parents. Last year, the Jolly Man showed up like usual and under the tree, there were lots of gifted items as well. Also, under the tree was our big family gift- the Family Adventure Coupon Book.
5 Reasons to Gift Adventures:
1.) Toy-clutter is cut down- yippee!
When you live in a small space, you learn to de-clutter before the holidays. (De-cluttering before or after the holiday is a great idea- follow this guide for help.) If you know there are no new toys coming in December the stress of de-cluttering is lowered.
2.) Buying with Intention
Have you ever bought something and minutes later regretted that impulse decision? I used to become victim to over-purchasing something because “it was on sale” during Black Friday. Now that my husband and I gift with our family adventures in mind- I know what I’m buying and what I don’t want to waste my time or money on.
3.) Staying Out of Debt OR Be True to a Budget
My husband is our main provider and to make our dollar stretch I purchase gifts throughout the year. We have a set budget we purchase Christmas with and avoid debt at all costs. Ironically, I am writing this paragraph hours after an unexpected car repair that’s costing us over $400… which is totally awesome. (Please note the sarcasm.) BUT you guys- we aren’t going in debt for that car repair either! We budget for unexpected problems, Christmas and gifts and vacation year round. SOOOO no debt for us. Making a budget that you stick with is important- I am living proof of this today! I’m not thrilled about our car repair happening today, but my kids are still getting Christmas- because it was purchased throughout the year and we budgeted for the car repairs. Yippee for living what I’m actually teaching right?
4.) Grateful for What You Have
Have you seen this video? The fantastic video spins how people take even the simplest gifts for granted. We should spend more time focusing on the things, gifts and people they have in our lives today then the things we wish we had. Instead, focus on the memories you could make with those you love and have in your life already.
5.) The MOST Important Reason…. Memories Trump Material Things
Think back to your childhood… What do you immediately think of? What comes to your mind? For me, I don’t remember everything I wore. (Though I do remember those blasted ankle stirrup leggings always tugging down my pencil pants.-Yuck!) What memories come to mind are the trips I took with my family. My family was blessed to go on lots of trips, some in the camper and some destinations that got us there by plane. I remember taking that first humid breath in the Honolulu airport. Or, the beautiful watercolors of blue of the Caribbean ocean. And of course, our many camping trips to Canada are ones I still take my children on. All of these childhood memories are the ones that my sisters and I talk fondly of when we get together. Big adventures, everyday adventures, these are the memories are what bind families together.
How We Did the Coupons Throughout the Year
Date to the Movies the kiddies were gifted plenty of theater candies, a refillable popcorn bucket, and a gift card to the movie theater.
Ice cream Date with Dad turned into an ice cream date with the family. I mean, you know the song. “I scream, you scream we all scream for…. ice cream.” 😀 We purchased several gift cards to Coldstone and gifted the cards with the coupon.
Hiking with Dad we turned the hiking into bike riding and camping this summer with the kids.
With each coupon, there was a coordinating treat, item(s) and gift cards. For instance: one coupon was for “bowling night” so attached to coupon was a much-needed present of socks and a gift card to our local bowling alley. Another coupon was for “laser tag” and all the kids got a pair of new shoes. Are you catching the theme? The children still got presents, but attached to those coupons was a gift card to use later. And I loved that we spent money on the gift cards in December so when we wanted to go on adventures with our kiddies we didn’t have to worry about adjusting the budget for those spontaneous dates with the kids. We already had the gift cards ready to go!
I like to plan ahead. If you know me, you know that I always have an agenda and I always have a backup plan to the plan in case things go south. I believe in being prepared. Having coupons that reminded our family to create memories this year was important. And having gift cards attached to those coupons made the spontaneous family plans less stressful on the money-end. Our pantry is filled with treats ready to go and the Family Adventure Coupon Book hangs on a hook in the kitchen ready for fun. Memories are worth more than gold and spending time together as a family binds us closer than ever. The memories can be simple bike rides or extravagant trips- it doesn’t matter. Spend time together as a family, plan that time with these adorable printables- it’ll be worth your time- promise.