“This Christmas,” my parents told me when I was twelve “we are going on a family trip instead of buying presents. Here’s why: Do you remember what we bought you last year? No? Well, you never forget an experience.”
They were right. I never forgot that trip; we drove from our home in Raleigh to a cabin-inspired hotel in the North Carolina mountains for the weekend. It was my first time playing in the snow and it was marvelous.
And so began a new tradition where we had a small gift to open on Christmas, but the highlight was the forging of a memory. To my parents, thank you for that quality time.
Experience gifts. I can think of several reasons why they may be an ideal present for your child this year.
First, they typically require quality time. Time engaged in an appealing activity with parents, grandparents, an aunt, or an uncle is valuable and is the currency of love to a child.
Second, children with visual impairments learn through experiences. The first-hand experience of playing in snow for the first time, for instance, will teach your child the concept of snow.
Third, many children (though certainly not all) already have an excess of toys. Your home will be less cluttered and your family can appreciate time over “stuff”.
Would you help me come up with experience gift ideas? Here are my suggestions:
- With usual hectic schedules, the greatest gift may be a short retreat from your high-pressure or fast-paced routine. A hotel in a nearby or faraway city may provide laughter in the heated pool, discovering a new restaurant and park, and a lovely evening walk.
- Consider a family friendly movie in theater with audio description headphones.
- Consider a trip to a theme park. Here in San Antonio, we have Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park designed for families with special needs “where everyone can play”.
- Perhaps your older daughter would enjoy a manicure and pedicure, or even a make-up lesson.
- Think about any professional lessons your child could participate in for the next year: piano, horseback riding, gymnastics, art, acting, martial arts, computer coding, or voice lessons. Read about the benefits of hobbies for children who are blind or visually impaired and consider a gift certificate to a year of hobby lessons.
- How about a coupon book filled with “dates” with you throughout the year? Your first date could be a trip to a toy store where your child can choose a gift within a certain budget. Read blogger Emily Coleman’s experience with her son, Eddie.
- Create a project together that would interest your child. For example, an invitation to build a treehouse in the backyard; wrap a piece of lumber.
- Purchase tickets to a hands-on museum, a petting zoo, a concert, or a play.
- Consider a weekly “mommy and me” gym class with your toddler.
- What about memberships for a rock gym, a trampoline park, or an indoor pool?
Most importantly, think about the interests of your child. What would she potentially find engaging, interesting, or exciting?
Make it fun. Make a memory.
[Read these 5 Tips for Preparing to Take Your Child Who is Blind Someplace New before your experience.]