Most kids don't need more stuff, but everyone can benefit from new experiences, or a shot in the arm for their future finances.
We all have too many things, don’t we? But what are we really investing our money in when all we do is by things? And what are we teaching our kids about money when we spend so much on frivolous stuff? For that matter, can we even find things they don’t already have?
Instead of putting our hard-earned cash to presents that may end up as re-gifts in short order, why not put it toward something that will last a lifetime, like memories? Consider, as you head into the gift-giving season, some experiences you can give the kids and teenagers in your life who already have more stuff than they know what to do with:
1. Movie tickets
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Get the kids in your life out of the house during winter break by treating them to a movie. Grandmas and grandpas — if you’re nearby, you can take them to see one of the new movies coming out during the holidays. If you can spare it, splurge on the IMAX or 3-D version. If that doesn’t make sense for your schedules and circumstances, give them a theater gift card for a movie (or two) of their choosing.
Speaking of movies kids will love, Check out this opportunity for the Thanksgiving holiday: “See ‘Sing’ free at a Theater Near You on Nov. 26.”
2. Ultimate movie night
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If you find that you can’t make it out to the movies with the kids, plan an epic movie night in. Let them choose the flicks, snacks, and decor, making it a marathon-like affair. They may not want a regular old movie-watching experience ever again.
3. Concert tickets
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Lots of kids have an obsession with a band, musician or performer. Grab them tickets — if you can go with them, even better — and tell them to keep their phone in their pocket and to be in the moment as much as possible. Whether it’s Bruno Mars or “Disney on Ice,” give them an experience that will have them talking for years afterward.
4. Pay for a date
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Teens don’t always have enough cash to take their significant other somewhere nice. Let them be impressive and splurge on a nice evening at a nicer-than-normal restaurant. The kids will undoubtedly remember that one time they went to a place without parents and felt like grown-ups — even though they have to return to being teenagers once the clock strikes midnight. This is a perfectly good treat for your kids and their regular buddies, too!
5. A seat in the bleachers
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If you’ve got kids or teens that are into sports, taking them to see their favorite team will be epic. If you’re in a town with a hockey, basketball or football team, all leagues have seasons going on right now. Or you can gift ahead of the season for other sports, like baseball. Soccer is year-round and less expensive than major league sports, so think about that or minor league options if you can’t swing the more expensive events.
6. Road trip
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Explore your own state or even another by getting kids out of the house and into the world. Do they know what is outside of their little bubble? Show them. Being cultured doesn’t start at an old age, and it shouldn’t have to. You can give the gift of learning through experience. It’s much more effective than a TV show or book when they are actually living it.
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Does your little one love the outdoors? Take them on a weekend trip to a national park or camping site. Do some hiking or try white-water rafting, or fishing. Your kid, regardless of age, will remember being out in the wilderness for a few days far longer than another wrapped item under the tree.
8. Gift cards/certificates
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Get a gift card or certificate for a special outing. Don’t just go for some paid-for coffee or digital downloads. Look for places you can go together. Whether it’s for a restaurant that he or she likes, a skating rink or a ski hill, having a gift card allows the child to own the outing you all spend together.
9. College and savings
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Whether it’s money toward college, an IRA, or just a regular savings account, investing in children is an awesome gift. Even if they don’t appreciate this long-term approach in the short run, they will eventually. If they aren’t your children, it’s a gift to the parents, too.
10. Company shares
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Giving a child company shares might seem boring, but they will find it more exciting when they realize the stocks’ potential for growth. Make the gift to your young person more meaningful by taking time to teach them how investing works. You may even pique their interest in business before you know it!
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If you’ve got kids that love science, art, theater or animals, you can cover this pretty easily with memberships to a variety of places. Give the gift of a membership to a local zoo, theater, ballet, museum or even an aquarium. Kids will learn while also having a blast.
What sort of experiences have you given or received in the past? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.