Forgo the Black Friday Frenzy - Give the Gift of an Experience

Black Friday is around the corner and you know what that means: It’s the start of the mad rush to purchase Christmas or Hanukkah gifts for friends, teachers, grandparents and kids.

What if you don’t celebrate a major holiday at this time of year? No problem. Keep reading because this post will apply to you as well.

Your kids may be busily writing letters to Santa Claus attesting to their good behavior and asking for the newest video game, bicycle, or jacket.

A child’s vision of a perfect holiday or Christmas can sometimes be a tree surrounded with large packages just for them -- or a Menorah with the promise of gifts.

But is that your ideal for the holiday season? Is it really spending Thanksgiving evening looking for Black Friday deals? Why not REI's lead this year and forgo the Black Friday frenzy.

[bctt tweet="Follow REI's lead; forgo the Black Friday frenzy via @ebmartin70"]

Whether you light 9 candles or a Christmas tree, and whether you celebrate both holidays or just one of them, you may want to rethink your gift giving strategy.

Am I suggesting that you forgo gifts entirely? No, because that prospect would disappoint your children. But I do have a solution to help you end the madness.

Give the Gift of an Experience

What if you could give a gift that your children would remember for the rest of their lives? This type of gift isn’t a tricycle or a game; I’m talking about the gift of an experience.

Book-of-the-Month Clubs for the Kids in Your Life

The parents of a friend of mine still recalls that as a child her parents subscribed to a book-of-the-month club.

Every four weeks on a Saturday, a biography would arrive of some legend in American history and she would crawl up in her mother’s rocker and spend the day reading.

She still recalls those Saturdays and the books that fueled a lifelong interest in reading biographies of leaders throughout history.

You can do the same thing for your children and boost your child's literacy and spelling prowess. In fact, here are some sources for book-of-the-month clubs for your children:

  1. Highlights – This well-recognized publisher offers stories and puzzles for children. Perhaps you’ve seen them in doctor’s offices. Well, now they can arrive at your doorstep.
  2. GiftLit – This is another wonderful source. And GiftLit offers books geared for children from the age of 2 to 14.
  3. Spellbound – On this website you’ll find books for babies and toddlers all the way to the young adult fiction lover in your house.
  4. Lollipop Book Club – This is another popular book club with books for the baby in your life or kids up to age 12. You can even find books by themes here.

[bctt tweet="This holiday, give your kids a book-of-the-month subscription #literacy "]

Gifts that Produce Wonder in Your Kids

There are gifts that provide more of an immediate experience as well. Yes, I’m talking about trips. These trips don’t need to cost a fortune. Here are some ideas.

  1. Instead of taking your kids to Disneyland and dealing with the long lines for the most popular rides, take them to a nearby zoo or aquarium. In Northern California, we have the San Francisco Zoo. In Central California, there’s the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and a lovely path along the bay that’s perfect for a family bike ride or walk.
  2. If you live near Santa Rosa or don’t mind spending the night in a nearby hotel, Safari West is a perfect Christmas or Hannukh gift. At Safari West, you’ll ride around in a safari jeep and have an opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of exotic animals. They even have a giraffe that likes to lick toes. If you are feeling flush or would like to really splurge, you could even spend an evening right on the grounds.
  3. What if you don’t live in Northern California? The San Diego Zoo is perhaps the best in the country. Traveling to the Zoo would definitely create a memory no child would ever forget.
  4. In the Midwest, Indianapolis has a Children’s Museum.
  5. Iowa is home to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
  6. If you have car enthusiasts in your family, Michigan is home to the Henry Ford Museum.
  7. Michigan has the Lake Superior Museum.
  8. Ohio has the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Jack Nicklaus Museum for your golf lovers in the family.
  9. Live in New York? Visit the American Museum of Natural History.
  10. If you live near Maryland, you can visit the National Children's Museum.
  11. In the south, you can take your kids to the EdVenture Children's Museum.

[bctt tweet="Instead of buying gifts, take your kids to museums, zoos and parks via @ebmartin70"]

Can’t Afford an Overnight Trip? Try These Ideas?

  1. Spend your holiday on a picnic and hike.
  2. If you live near the beach, spend the day running into the waves, checking out tide pools, and spooning up clam chowder.
  3. Are you kids too young to hike? Visit local amenities. Every town has some claim to fame.
  4. Spend a day walking neighborhoods that teach your kids about local landmarks or the history of your town.
  5. Invite your child to spend a day at work with you.

It might be an adjustment for your children not to receive large, gift-wrapped packages, but they will appreciate time spent with children and experiences that create memories they’ll never forget.

Forgo the Black Friday Frenzy and Give the Gift of an Experience and Literacy by Elizabeth B. Martin

Elizabeth B. Martin is the author and illustrator of six picture books for children. You can view her books here for free.