Birthdays, Gifts, and Choices
This is the time of year when my family becomes birthday focused. It often seems like we are always moving from one celebration to the next between Christmas and mid-summer. I certainly love a good green party as much as the next girl, but a good party takes quite a bit of though, planning, and care to ensure a good time for all and to lessen the impact on the environment.
What are the first things you think of when you think of birthday celebrations? For my kids it is friends (and family), cake, and presents. I love to celebrate with friends and family and I even love dreaming up the best cake for the birthday child (or husband). What I don’t love is all of the presents – often well-intentioned, but often played with a couple of times and then left to become a part of the mess that is always our playroom.
For years now my husband and I have decided not to give our children gifts of things at all. Instead we choose an experience they get to enjoy with the parent of their choice based on their most current interests. There have been rock-climbing expeditions, tea parties at fancy hotels, jet boat excursions, camping, and more. I can’t encourage this enough.
We make memories, not fodder for the landfill.
We spend money on priceless time and togetherness.
We take care to make the experience all about the child.
I believe it has been one of the best decisions on tradition that we have ever made as parents.
Best Experiences to Give
Note: I am taking the perspective as a parent, but these can also be perfect gifts for friends and family.
- Tickets. There are an assortment of amazing events happening everywhere from plays to concerts to book readings. You can certainly find something that anyone in your life would enjoy.
- Camping. Besides how fun it can be to reconnect with nature, it’s also inexpensive and if done right can be a great green trip.
- Art Museum. Major cities have great options for art and amazing wonders of the world inside their museums. Give your little artist a little culture and if you live close enough, add something from number seven to make it a great adventure.
- Spa Treatments. Whether you create your own eco-friendly treatments at home or go to a green spa, taking care of yourself and others is an important ritual. Who wouldn’t love to get a sweet little (non-toxic) pedicure with your little one or a relaxing massage and foot bath with a sister?
- Adventure. Have a child who’d love to boost their adrenaline on a zip line, rock climb, snowboard, go spelunking, or mountain bike? There are adventures for all levels and all ages that parents can enjoy alongside their children. Maybe it will even get you out of your comfort zone just a little!
- Science Museum and IMAX. For the curious child who always wants to know how things work with a movie on an IMAX screen that shows them the world in a whole new way. Just be prepared for the onslaught of questions as you head home.
- Boat, Train, Tram, or Trolley Ride. Any method of unusual transportation is perfect for children of all ages. Little ones will be thrilled with something a little more simple, yet out of the ordinary, while your older children might want something a little more adventurous. Any way you go is bound to be fun and full of time to just be with your child.
- Take a Class. Teach your child that you never too young or old to learn something new. Give the gift of music lessons, make pottery together, learn self-defense, gardening, canning, acrobatics, juggling, anything!
- Overnight Stay at a Hotel. As a kid I absolutely loved staying in hotels. Oh, who am I kidding, I love it now! Choose a hotel within walking distance of some fun activities or with a pool and stay in, but many of my kids favorite memories involve hotels.
- Combination of Any of the Above. Take a weekend and spend that time to invest in your child. You will never regret that.
For my second son, he received a great dose of number ten last year. It included trains, new cities, local adventure, and a fantastic green hotel. Can’t wait to show you more tomorrow.
For now, what experience would you love to get?
Other Links That May be of Interest About Our Travel Experiences: