It’s a great feeling for parents to see the delighted faces of their children on Christmas morning — their gleaming smiles as the toys begin to pile up. The next part of the morning is often a not-so-great feeling for parents, as it entails pulling out scissors, pliers, hammers and screwdrivers — and that’s just to get the toys out of the boxes. Then by Christmas evening, many of the presents have already been abandoned, at which point, the joy of the season does not seem quite so, well, joyful.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who studies the effects of money and happiness. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
The average child in the developed world owns over 200 toys but only plays with 12 of them on average per day. So, this year, consider replacing at least one or two of those toys with gifts of experience that will keep the joy of the season going throughout the year.
Tickets and Passes
Tickets or passes to theaters, sporting events, indoor water parks and even festivals and shows that take place later in the year are great gifts for children. Tickets to local movie theatres, putt-putt golf, trampoline parks and other activities that take place indoors can also make exciting gifts that can be used to break up the winter blues. Even a stay in a local hotel with a nice pool can be a fun adventure for a family during the winter months. In addition, the anticipation of the event in and of itself becomes part of the gift. The best part for gift-givers is that tickets to events and venues are often available to fit any budget, and are often discounted if you purchase well in advance.
Memberships to museums, zoos, local state parks and other attractions keep the holiday excitement going year around. Not only can you get memberships for the whole family to most of these places at a sizeable discount, several also include members-only benefits, such as extra discounts and special events. Let’s not forget about the added advantage of being able to skip long lines. As a bonus for the gift-giver, most memberships are available for purchase quickly and easily online.
Classes and Camps
Dayton and the surrounding areas offer many creative and athletic classes and camps for children. You can find classes for everything from music, theatre and dance to gymnastics, swimming and baseball. For added enjoyment for you and your child, look for classes you can do with them or as a family.
Gift certificates for spring break and summer camps also make great gifts. Many unique camps are available, whether your child is interested in science and math or learning to build a house. It’s a great way to introduce children to something new, or to allow them to spend time doing activities they already love.
The Benefits of Experiential Gifts
Studies show that consumers derive value from anticipation, and that value tends to be greater for experiential gifts than for material purchases. As every parent has inevitably experienced at some point, the joy of material gifts fades quickly and even the most anticipated Christmas toys soon become another discarded heap in the corner.
Rather than scouring store shelves and the internet for those most-have toys of the season, consider giving your child and your family the gift of new adventures and special memories instead. Neither of you will be sorry. The toys will be gone by next Christmas, but the memories of time spent together and experiencing new things can last a lifetime.