The Ultimate Mindful Experiences Gift Guide

Every year I get an email from my sister at the beginning of December (or sometimes in November) asking for our Christmas Lists.

And almost every year my shoulders sink a little as I start to stress about what to put on the list.

We have been working on minimizing the shit stuff in our home for years now, and it feels never ending.

I love that experiences give us the opportunity to pay attention to and understanding our child more.  When we are present and paying attention to his interests and abilities, ideas for the right experiences come naturally.
- Stephanie Aberlich

To think about getting more shit stuff, just stresses me out.

Some years it’s easiest to make an Amazon Wish List of a few things we truly need, and just be done with it.  Some years that’s literally all I have the energy for.

Other years, when we have some space to be really intentional about gift giving, we focus more on experiences instead of things.

It’s something we want to get better at doing as our son grows, and something I think gradually gets more exciting as children age and are able to better articulate their interests.

I imagine many gifts we will give in future years will include trips to landmarks and cities our son is interested in learning about, museums, or other historic places in and outside of the US.

I love that experiences give us the opportunity to pay attention to and understanding our child more.  When we are present and paying attention to his interests and abilities, ideas for the right experiences come naturally.

In our home, intentionally picked experiences are ones that:

  1. Cost something 
  2. Are not activities we’d do in our normal everyday unschooling activities
  3. Do not always produce stuff to keep

For mindful gifts that are free or stuff-based, check out this list of free experiences and this one of eco-friendly supplies & toys.

For younger children (under 3), many of these experiences might not apply or are just not developmentally appropriate. But the good news is, children under 3 typically don’t have any concept of presents, so all experiences for them are amazing and exciting and filled with sensory input.

For example, a trip to the roller skating rink with an older sibling can be just as exciting for an 18 month old, even though they watch and don’t technically “participate” in the roller skating.  However, there are many other things to explore at the rink.

Looking forward to an experience fosters excitement and happiness all on it’s own!  So let's get started!

100+ Mindful Experiences for Gift-Giving

Learning

  • Science Museum Trip or Membership
  • Art Museum Trip or Membership
  • Children’s Museum Trip or Membership
  • Sports Museum Trip or Membership
  • Tickets to Brickfair
  • Tickets to Domino/Lego/Building Fairs
  • Online Magazine Membership
  • Factory Tours
  • Summer Camp Tuition
  • Donate To Their Educational Fund or Savings Account

Arts

  • Movie Tickets
  • Tickets to a Musical
  • Concert Tickets
  • See a Play
  • Dance Performance
  • Music Class or Lessons
  • Dance Class or Lessons
  • Singing Class or Lessons
  • Instrument Class or Lessons
  • Pottery Class or Lessons
  • Art Class or Lessons
  • Craft Class or Lessons
  • Orchestra Tickets
  • Ballet Tickets
  • Opera Tickets
  • Arcade Trip
  • Photography Class
  • Wood Working Class
  • Glass Blowing Class
  • Cooking Class
  • Community Theatre Tickets
  • Pottery Painting
  • Sewing Class or Lessons
  • Tickets to BroadwayCon

Movement

  • Putt Putt
  • Bowling
  • Pool Membership
  • Water Park
  • Ice Skating
  • Roller Skating
  • Trampoline Park
  • Skate Park
  • Swimming Class
  • Soccer Class
  • T Ball Class
  • Basketball Class
  • Gymnastics Class
  • Tumbling Class
  • Karate Class
  • Skiing Trip or Lessons
  • Yoga Class
  • Spinning Class
  • Train Ride
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Zip Lining
  • High Ropes Course
  • Helicopter Ride
  • Rock Climbing
  • Batting Cage
  • Minor League Baseball Tickets
  • Tickets to Major League Sporting Events

Nature

  • Visiting Landmarks
  • Camping Trip
  • Animal Sanctuary
  • Horse Riding
  • Visiting a Farm (Many Farms have Farm Days)
  • Lavender Farm Trip
  • Tinkergarden Class
  • Beach Trip
  • Mountain Trip
  • Rock Climbing
  • Nature Center
  • Scuba Lessons
  • Sailing Lessons
  • Gardening Kit

Family Trips & Experiences

  • Dinner & A Show
  • Special Dinner Out
  • Special Dessert Out
  • Hotel with Pool
  • Waterpark
  • Amusement Park
  • Road Trip
  • Donating to Charity (Let the child pick which charity)
  • Surprise Adventure
  • Festivals or Fairs in your Town

New Parent Self Care

  • Bringing Baby Home Class (*Coming Soon!)
  • In Harmony Village Membership (*Coming Soon!)
  • Birth Photography 
  • Family Photography
  • Family Videography
  • Birthfit Class
  • Reiki Session
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractor
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Birth Story Listening
  • Home Energy Clearing
  • Spa Day
  • Wine Tasting
  • Beer Making
  • Tattoo
  • Hair Cut
  • Henna
  • Fairy Hair
  • Date Night
  • Date Day Activity
  • Paint & Sip Class
  • Pottery Class
  • Biking Class
  • Crafting Class
  • Skydiving
  • Scuba Diving
  • Sewing Class

Awareness Over Perfection

Did you already send out your holiday list?  No biggie. You can send some more experience based ideas, or just wait till next year.  Each year, you could choose more experience based gift ideas.  In my experience, it can take years to shift your mindset.  And sometimes the people in your life will push back on the experience based gifts. So take it slow if you need to.

Tell Your Story

What experience based gifts do you give in your family? How has that changed your family dynamic and the way your children view things, toys and gifts?  Share your story and wisdom in the comments.

With Harmony,

Stevie