"Making Memories, Not Materialism" has been our family motto for awhile now. I came up with it one day while trying to teach our kids what service to others really means. It has proven to be a great way to teach our kids the value of service, as well as the value of a dollar. Last Christmas we gave the kids each ten handmade gift certificates for different experiences. One was good for attending a U of U gymnastic meet, another a one-on-one date with mom, a trip to the dollar store, a family game night including pizza and treats. Each experience had a dollar amount attached. For example, they each got $10 for a one-on-one date with mom to spend however they chose.
I wasn't sure how they would react. They were all under 8 years old and I know how excited I was to open presents on Christmas morning at those ages. Turns out they were the best gifts ever. I can say this idea was inspired and we've had so much fun. Sometimes the kids combined their certificates so we could all go do something together-like Marble Slab for ice cream; other times Andy or I had the opportunity to be with one kid and spend some good quality time together, just the two of us. One night my sweet second daughter knew I was having a hard day and spent her pizza and game night certificate to give me a break. Too Cute!!
We set aside the amount we spent on each kid in a seperate account so the money is safe from being spent where it wasn't intended. Each child still had some flexibility--most of the certificates are not intended for a specific store, so they could choose which dollar store they wanted to go to, or which ice cream or pizza chain they wanted to eat at, they could choose a movie or game, or they could choose where they wanted to go with mom or dad for their one-on-one time.
They are making their Christmas lists now and the older three have this gift at the top of their lists. What a great parenting moment for me! Now the practical side of me says to add to the fabulousness (is that a word?) of this gift I can combine these certificates with coupons to help them strectch their dollars.
This has been such a great way to experience Christmas all year long.