The Mid-South's Premier Parenting Resource

Our Presence is the Present: The One-on-One Experience Gift

It's that time of year again, when the newness of back-to-school slides into Halloween then on to Thanksgiving before picking up steam as the ever-growing snowball of the approaching holiday season builds. Throw in some family birthdays at our house, and it's very busy--yet very fun--season. One thing that helps with the potential holiday overwhelm, however, is the way we have streamlined gift-giving for our kids.

holiday presents

Like many families, we ascribe to the "something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read" rhyme. This has benefitted all of us in so many ways. Everyone knows what to expect gift-wise, we are able to keep gifts pretty much even between all three kids, and since the "something to wear" is matching holiday pajamas, each child receives three gifts just like the infant Jesus did.

Over the past couple of years, however, we have taken the "something I want" gift to the next level. I had been struggling to figure out what to get for our children (that was not the phone or tablet they continued to dutifully put on their list each year) when it dawned on me that what we should do is to gift them an experience. Not only would it help us keep the clutter under control by not giving them more stuff, but it would also be an opportunity for each kid to have some one-on-one time with a parent.

It was a smashing success.

We started small that first year. Our oldest had requested cute clothes, so she got to go on a solo shopping trip with me. We are very fortunate to receive so many hand-me-downs from friends and neighbors, so actually shopping for clothes is a rare occurrence and trying on clothes in the dressing room is something of a novelty. We of course capped off our trip with a stop for cupcakes and made an afternoon of it.

Our middle daughter loves art, so she got a solo visit to The Art Project. An hour and a half of art freeplay with Mom's undivided attention and no interruptions from siblings was sheer bliss. (And we stopped for treats afterward as well. Duh.)

solo trip to the Art Project with mom experience gift

We cheated a bit with Little Brother, who was still under two and got plenty of one-on-one time while sisters were at school. He needed a new bike helmet (his "need gift"), so he got to go to the store with Dad by himself to pick it out and try it on. But he had fun, and I'm sure they made some special stops along the way as well.

After that first year, we knew we wanted to repeat the experience gift. We stepped it up a little bit and decided that each child would get to attend an event. Kid #1 got to go to a Memphis Tigers basketball game, Kid #2 got to attend a Collage Dance ballet performance, and Kid #3 got to watch monster trucks. Not all of these events happened at Christmastime (the monster truck show didn't come to town until early April), which meant that we could spread out the excitement without trying to cram everything in a short time frame.

monster truck rally experience gift

I'm not yet sure what we'll do this year, but I know it's something we are all looking forward to. My sustainability-loving heart is a big fan of less stuff, of course, but the real joy of this experience gift is time spent with one kid at a time. Even though there are only three of them, our children still relish the opportunity to be the only one, if even for just an afternoon or evening. I know it's something we should do more often, but including this one-on-one experience as part of a Christmas gift ensures that it will definitely happen.

In the hustle and bustle of this season, it's so nice to have at least one thing figured out. It's also really fun figuring out which activity complements each child's individual personality. Giving our children a one-on-one experience gift is a tradition I hope we continue for a long time.


More Great Articles

{MMB Thankful Series} :: When Turning Out the Lights Isn’t Enough
Throughout the month of November and in preparation for Thanksgiving, we are sharing the things that we are thankful for as mothers. We're calling this our "Thankful Series." Our contributor Amanda Parks is mother to 9-month-old Madison, and has several things she just couldn't live without as a first-time mom. As a new mother, I'm […]
It’s Time :: Moms, Let’s Do Better
I have a serious question. (This rarely happens. *wink*) When did it become okay to be late? Maybe I’m old-school or am just imagining it (I’m not.), but it seems these days it’s becoming more and more typical for people to casually stroll into meetings 10-15 minutes late, blow off dinner plans for an hour […]
Veterans Day and Our Kids
My first memories of celebrating Veterans Day are from elementary school. In my tiny hometown of Bruceton, TN, we had an awesome celebration each year to honor veterans in the area. Since our school had kindergarten through 12th grade in the same building, the entire school attended the program. I have such fond memories of the Veterans of […]


Memphis Moms is the Mid-South's premier parenting resource.

Encouraging + Equipping + Empowering moms

We strive to build community by connecting area families to relevant resources, local businesses, digital guides, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!