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We all have too many things, don’t we? But what are we teaching 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 spending hard-earned cash on presents that may end up as re-gifts in short order, why not put it toward gifts that last a lifetime, by making memories? Here are 11 memorable gifts of experiences for the kids and teenagers in your life: tickets for concerts and sporting events, camping and road trips, contributions to college savings accounts and more:
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 taking them to a screening isn’t possible, give them a theater gift card for a movie (or two) of their choosing.
2. An ultimate home movie night
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If 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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Do the kids in your life 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 phones in their pockets so they can be in the moment as much as possible. Whether it’s Bruno Mars, “The Nutcracker” or “Disney on Ice,” find an experience that will have them talking and reliving it for years after.
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 it as the time they went to a place without parents and felt like grown-ups — even though they have to return to being teenagers when the clock strikes midnight. This is a perfectly good treat for your kids and their non-romantic friends, too.
5. A seat in the bleachers
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If you’ve got kids or teens who are into sports, taking them to see their favorite team will be epic. In towns with hockey, basketball or football teams, all leagues have seasons going on right now. Or you can plan a 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 about minor league options if you can’t swing the more expensive events.
If your game’s out of town, find a travel rewards card that pays you back on travel purchases.
6. Road trip
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Explore your own state or even another state by getting kids out of the house and into the world. If they don’t know what is outside of their little bubble, show them. Being cultured doesn’t need to begin at an older age. You can give the gift of learning through experience. It’s much more effective than a TV show or book.
Or splurge, if you can, and take a more ambitious trip together — to Disney World, for instance. Wherever you go, involve your child in the planning. Money Talks News’ partner Shermans Travel can help you brainstorm options and find great travel deals. Or find an RV to rent from a private owner at RVShare.
7. Camping trip
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Do your little ones love the outdoors? Take them on a weekend trip to a national park or camping site. Plan hikes or try whitewater rafting or fishing. Your children, regardless of age, will remember their outdoors adventure far longer than they will hang onto the memory of unwrapping one more toy found under the tree.
8. Gift cards/certificates for outings
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Get a gift card or certificate for a special outing. Make it for an experience, not just for a coffee shop or digital downloads. In fact, choose places you can go together. Whether it’s for a restaurant they like, a skating rink or a ski hill, having a gift card allows the child to own the outing you all spend together.
Choose gift cards carefully. Here are two ways for buying them:
- At Raise, earn cash back when you purchase gift cards.
- Gift Card Granny sells discounted gift cards.
9. Money for 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 their parents, too.
10. Shares of stock in a company
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Giving a child company shares might seem boring at first. But they will find it more exciting when they realize the stocks’ potential for growth. Make this gift more meaningful by taking time to teach your young person how investing works. You may pique their interest in business before you know it!
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If you’ve got kids who love science, art, theater or animals, you can delight them with memberships to a variety of places. Sign them up for a membership to a local zoo, theater, ballet, museum or aquarium. They’ll learn while they have 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.
Marilyn Lewis contributed to this report.