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5 Memory Making Family Gifts that Don't Come in Packages

Updated on November 1, 2012

Experiences and Memories Last Longer than Wrapping Paper and Bows

If you want to make sure your family receives a unique gift that no one else will give them, the best thing to do is plan an experience and start creating memories of things that you do together as a family over the holiday season.

Many times memories start with traditions, like decorating the tree or baking cookies, but more often memories are found in simply doing things together on a regular basis. With our digital lifestyle and on the go schedules, this can be overlooked and neglected in our day-to-day relationships.

The holidays are a great time to rejuvenate your family, enjoy each other's company, and spend that quality time together, making memories, giving to others, and celebrating the true spirit of the season.

image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images

image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images
image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images

Sponsor a Child, Animal, or Favorite Cause

Alternatively, Volunteer at Local Shelter

It is often said that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. I find that to be true - even for kids. Every year around the holidays (with the exception of one particular difficult year when my husband was very ill) we have picked up Angel Tree tags at a local store and my kids chose and purchased gifts for kids their age who would otherwise have no gifts to open. And every year I think they have more fun doing that one thing than they do opening their own holiday gifts.

Instead of buying gifts for each other this holiday, make it a point to give a gift to help others in need as a family. You can sponsor children in many different countries by sending in a one time donation or agreeing to sponsor them long term for ongoing needs like school supplies and fresh water. If you prefer to focus your efforts on your local community you can donate to toy drives, animal shelters, women's shelters, homeless shelters, the food bank, or any other non-profit organization in your area.

image credit: dreamstime free stock images
image credit: dreamstime free stock images

Get Out of the House for a Few Days

Taking a vacation is always fun and many families take advantage of the time off of work and school by taking a trip and considering that the gift for everyone in the family instead of buying "things" and wrapping presents.

Of course this doesn't mean that you have to pack your bags and take an expensive trip to Disney World every year. Look for short trips and experiences near your home that you can do together and stay in a hotel for a few nights if it's within your budget to do so. Even if you're staying at home, pretend to be tourists for a few days and go check out the museums.

Maybe even stay with a nearby relative for a few days just to spend more time with them and do fun things. What grandparent would love an extended visit over the holidays? Sometimes a change of scenery can be the most refreshing thing, even during the holidays.

image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images
image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images

Enjoy Local Culture, Art, and History

Budget Friendly Memory Making in Your Hometown

You do not have to travel far from home to get a refreshing perspective, you can simply spend half a day seeing things you might overlook in your community on an average day. If you are willing to brave the weather, go for a nature walk and have a holiday picnic outside. That's also a great way to enjoy your holiday leftovers the day after your big family gathering.

Visit your local museums and historic sites and check out the guided tours that they offer. For example, we live near Williamsburg and we've been there several times to browse around the shops and see the holiday displays, but we've never done the "tourist" tours and events that they have there. There's lots to see and learn in any neighborhood, you just have to find the places that are offering it.

You might spend an afternoon at the nearest art museum and discuss everyone's favorite display. Depending on your seasonal weather, a trip to the zoo might be enjoyable for your family. Check your paper or online news source for community holiday events and go participate in those, meet some new people and enjoy the festivities.

image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images
image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images

Family Coupon Exchange

Have each family member write up 5 things they would like someone to do *for them* such as washing dishes, clean a room, receive a back rub or hand massage. Each person puts their coupons into a hat and each family member pulls out 5 different ones. Instead of gifts, each person will fill the request of the recipient. Of course if you draw your own coupon you'll put that back into the hat and draw again.

Or you can do the reverse and have each person write several things they are willing to do for each member of the family, like swap chores for the week, lend a favorite toy for the day, wash the car, and so on. Create a little coupon booklet for each member of the family by stapling their offers together and present them with that as their gift. Over the next few weeks or months they can cash in their coupons to the person that wrote them.

image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images
image credit: dreamstime.com free stock images

Learn a New Language, Skill, or Hobby

Sign up for a language or crafting skills class as a family. You can usually find these sort of classes at your local community college or rec center. Not only will you learn together, but you will also have the experience of practicing together and. You can try fitness classes, swim lessons, art classes, woodworking, sewing, or absolutely anything else that interests everyone in the family.

If it's difficult to choose one thing try having a vote to see which thing to do, or draw ideas from a hat. You might even choose a few things to do over the course of the year and take a different class every three or four months.

Share Your Best Holiday Family Memory: - anyone can leave a comment, even if you're not registered on Squidoo

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