experiencing, give presence, give the gift of..., highlight, parenting
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Giving Presence, Not Presents

Sometimes life unfolds a series of small and seemingly unimportant events that end up having a significant impact.

I’d just finished a rather long and involved discussion with the children on their upcoming birthdays – all three of which are in February. I felt exhausted – having just got through the toy-fest that is Christmas I now had more presents and parties to organise.

I made a cup of tea, flicked open a magazine and found an article about a theory called Stuffocation. Author James Wallman believes we are moving  away from the debt and stress of materialism – where we use stuff to declare status – and moving towards “experientialism” where we focus less on what we have and more on what we do.

The book has given me the words to explain the changes that have been happening in our household (which you can read about here) in the last year.

That same day I got an invitation from a Facebook friend to a Monster Slide Festival.

At that moment I realised I had solved my own problem. Instead of buying the kids presents for their birthdays, I would buy them experiences.

So I grabbed a family pass to the Monster Slide festival – what 8yo boy wouldn’t want to spend the day on a 300m long water slide!

On a roll, I headed to Grabone where I picked up 5 all day ski passes to Snowplanet at a bargain basement price – that’s my skiing-mad 8yo daughter sorted.

And for my soon-to-be 10yo I’ve booked a horse riding lesson and mini trek.

An hour later I had all three birthday presents sorted. But the best thing is we also have three fun-filled family days out to look forward to. Now that’s what I call winning.


  1. Nicola says

    What a lovely sentiment. My almost right year old is firmly focused on his upcoming March birthday – I’m dreading the expectation of presents!! Experiential is a great idea.


    • My kids have really embraced it. They had a say in choosing the experiences, and I’ve made sure they happen close to their actual birthdays. I’m also making them ‘gift vouchers’ so I have something to give them on the day. It’s not necessarily the cheaper/easier option, but it will create memories that will last so much longer than the thrill of a new toy (or in some cases the toy itself….)


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