Before my daughter’s 3rd birthday, I looked around our house and I couldn’t believe we were about to be getting anymore toys for her birthday. I didn’t know where they would even fit at that point, and she was only 3! It’s not like she was even playing with all the toys we already had, and kids outgrow toys too quickly to keep buying more that would rarely get played with.
So, I started to think about what my daughter did like that wasn’t toys. I came up with so many ideas and decided to give her the gift of experiences, rather than toys.
Here’s what I did, I started writing a list of all the ideas I had and then I made her coupons with those ideas on them. I drew pictures and added stickers because drawing is not my strong suit. Then I got a fun little bag from Dollar Tree and add the coupons inside. I placed the coupon bag inside of a gift bag and let her open it on her birthday. We did discuss ahead of time that she would not be receiving gifts this year and that she could pick out fun things to do instead. I thought it was a good idea to warn her so there wasn’t a meltdown when she opened her “gift”.
This was such a great idea! We do this for her birthday, and we might start doing it for Christmas and Easter. She loved that the coupons themselves with the pictures, so she had an idea what each one was. Then each week we’d let her pick out a coupon to redeem and I’d take her coupon to cash it in. I actually set aside an envelope with money in it for the coupons and would put the coupons in there. Then we could set a limit to how much could be spent on each coupon depending on how much money we had left.
I did add a few coupons that she could pick out a few toys. But I focused mainly on activities and experiences. Here are some ideas of what I included:
- Buy flowers (our Aldi sells a flower bouquet for about $4-5)
- Childs pick of a movie with homemade popcorn (we let her choose the popcorn at the store)
- Bake cookies
- Buy Balloons (the Dollar Tree has $1 something balloons and they last over a month)
- Put money in the bank in her bank account
- Print a photo of choice (we’d let her look at our phone and pick a photo she wanted to print and decided what she’d like to do what that photo, buy a frame, hang it on the fridge, etc.)
- Buy a dinosaur
- Buy a slushie
- Buy a boba drink
- Have a picnic
- Go to the children’s museum
- Go to the movie theater
- Go swimming at the pool
- $5 at the candy store
- Go out for ice cream
- Go to the zoo
- Go to an indoor trampoline place
- Play mini golf
- Go to the arcade
- Go bowling
- Have a treasure hunt
- Go camping
- Go to indoor water park
- Get mani/pedi
- Set up of a fort in the playroom or living room
The possibilities are endless with this! So, think about what your child would really like and make a coupon for it. Then if they find something they really like, I’d add that coupon back to the coupon bag in case that was something they wanted to do again.
When I started this, I did ask family for money of gift cards only and explained my idea. That way there truly was a limit on the gifts we received, and it wasn’t just a smaller number of gifts. When family gave us money or gift card, I’d place that money or gift card into the coupon envelope I already had going so the money truly went to our daughter.
We currently do this for birthdays, but I plan to try it for Christmas by adding more coupons. I also thought this would also work nicely for Easter. I could put some coupons in the Easter eggs instead of mainly candy or money like we typically do.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my kids however, that is typically a challenge with how limited their attention span can be and how messy it gets. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and creating fond memory for all of us.