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This Alternative to Christmas Gifts Was Our Best Decision Ever

Are you looking for an alternative to Christmas gift giving? I get it. Christmas is one of the highlights of our family’s year. In my mind nothing beats it for family togetherness and sharing expressions of love through giving gifts. Even with that though, there have been times where my wife and I were frustrated with the presents we put under the tree.

alternative to christmasWhy was that? Because we found ourselves hit with a January hangover effect. We watched as the majority of the presents our kids received lie dormant in the corner of the room, not being touched.  I would say that over 80% of the toys my wife and I purchased for our kids each Christmas were played with a couple of times and then left to collect dust. That was frustrating considering the money we shelled out for them.

So one year, we were simply tired of the whole thing. We didn’t want to waste money on things we thought were great but that they weren’t going to use. So we decided to do something different. I’d even call it radical.

We decided not to buy any Christmas presents! Sorry Santa. 

To our surprise, when we told the kids what we were doing, they were 100% enthusiastically behind it. How could that be? Because we had an alternative to Christmas gifts that, as it turns out, they would never forget.

Our Alternative to Christmas Presents

What was the big alternative to Christmas presents that we chose to do that had our kids so excited? We decided to go on a trip.

Instead of buying Christmas presents that would only be played with a few times, we went on a 5-day vacation. We originally thought on going to North Carolina for some introductory skiing lessons and snow tubing. But then early colder-than-normal weather hit the area and we thought “What’s the fun of being wet and really cold for five days?”

So we switched our itinerary just before we left and headed to sunny south Florida. The kids didn’t mind that we adjusted our plans at the last minute either. South Florida sun sounded really nice in the middle of winter.

Related Content: 6 Special Reasons Why I Love Having a Vacation Budget

A Christmas That Cost More

The main locations we decided to visit were the Everglades, Key Largo and Key West. All those locations are relatively close to one another and provide many opportunities for fun. Our kids had never been there before so they were excited about seeing alligators, going on an airboat ride through the swamps and standing at the southern most tip of the continental United States.

Now, the catch for this trip was that it would not be a cheaper alternative to Christmas. We knew going into it that we would spend more than if we had just filled their stockings and piled presents under the tree. But we were happy to do it. And a couple things came into play that allowed us to do this financially.

One is that we had been saving for Christmas presents all year. My wife and I had developed a budgeting plan for Christmas presents where we start saving in January. Then, when December rolls around, we have the cash to pay for gifts. It’s a system that has reduced stress, kept us from going into debt for presents and put the fun back in Christmas shopping for us. So we had that gift money already saved that paid for most of the trip budget.

Related Content: Sinking Fund: The Best Way to Save Money for Christmas Gifts

The balance of the trip budget came from our regular monthly budget for December. Some of the money we would have used anyway for gas, groceries, kid stuff and our personal spending money, was re-allocated to the trip budget. So between these two things we had the trip budget covered.

That Christmas Meant More

Now I know you may be thinking that we gave them a gift anyway. That’s true. But it wasn’t a product and it wasn’t something they’d forget about in a month.

What we gave them was an experience. That’s the big alternative to Christmas for you to consider. It doesn’t have to be a big trip. Think of any experience that you can shift your Christmas budget toward that will have meaning and value for your family.

I can tell you this looking back on it – that was the best Christmas we ever had as a family. They still talk about it to this day.

Yes, it cost a bit more. But that cost has been priceless in the long run. Toys are great. However, memories created through quality family experiences outlast the feelings over any toy ever received.

That’s what my wife and I created that year. If we had known at the outset of the trip it would have had such a lasting effect, we would have done it sooner without hesitation.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: Have you ever gone on a family vacation during the holidays instead of buying Christmas presents?  Do you experience the same issues with your kids quickly losing interest in their toys? What’s the best gift you’ve ever received at Christmas?

Photo Courtesy of krakenimages on Unsplash

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