With some thoughtful planning ahead of time you can take the last-minute stress out of gift-giving and create a special new fun family tradition.
Of course, there will always be the very special gift for your kids or your spouse and others near and dear, and that’s great. Those are the gifts we remember most. Sometimes though we can go overboard with gift buying just so that there are lots of presents under the tree. Well, we’ve got some great ideas to start transitioning from gifts that are things to gifts that are experiences. It’s never too late to start a new tradition! Giving experiences to be enjoyed alone or shared throughout the year is a thoughtful way to show you care. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Why a family gifting tradition?
We all want to give something thoughtful, something that will be remembered, enjoyed and used, however sometimes life gets in the way and we just end up rushing to the nearest department store to buy gifts - hoping we remembered everyone! The best way to avoid the Christmas rush and give something meaningful is to make it a family thing - if everyone got the memo, you’ll be sure to really consider the person you’re gifting. You can use the same idea for each family member, if you’re the grandparents or parents, just make sure it’s customized to their personalities and lives.
We recently received an email from one of our clients, who does this with her family Christmas Gift Boxes, which actually inspired this article. We hope you feel inspired to celebrate your family and start a Christmas gift tradition that leaves everyone feeling loved long after Christmas.
Family Gift Tradition ideas for Kids and Young Teens
Make the Holidays extra special for the young ones by adding a sense of excitement, surprise and even adventure Games are a great old-school way to capture their attention and help them enjoy some time away from that electronic screen.
Using the “12 days of Christmas” song as a theme, get the kids into the Christmas mood long before Christmas. For the days leading up to Christmas, incorporate games and family fun activities.
DIY Advent Calendar
Advent calendars are a great way to build up excitement to Christmas, and an easy family gifting tradition to incorporate that will stay in their memories forever. Counting down the day with one of the more traditional Advent calendars, boasting images of Snowmen and Robins or sweet chocolates is fun, but make it extra special this year with a DIY Advent calendar. Making a special advent calendar for each child, filled with thoughtful little gifts, sweets, chocolates, and other goodies is the perfect memory they’ll remember forever. How much effort you want to put into this is totally up to you, but here are a few ideas:
Design - First, choose your design. Country living has listed 44 stunning DIY Advent calendar designs for you to choose from.
Content- Fill each with either something sweet, something useful or something fun. Holidappy has a complete list of ideas for the whole family - we definitely didn’t think of adding stickers to the kids' Advent calendar, and we all know they’d love that!
Stuff the stockings - This is actually the perfect Christmas tradition for the entire family, but make it extra special by giving each child a handmade stocking with their name on it. Make this the one gift that the kids can open on Christmas morning as soon as they wake up, this will keep them happy till it’s time to head for the tree.
“Even now, many years later, my mother stuffs the Christmas stocking she handcrafted for me as a child (repaired many times over) with an orange, an apple, assorted candies, and a small gift.” - Dana Meredith
The Gift of Time - One savvy Granny came up with an “Adventure box” for her two eldest grandchildren. The box offered the gift of time. She knew that her grandchildren already had far too many toys and so decided to share with them experiences. She filled a box with twelve envelopes, one for each month of the coming year, and in each was a family activity that they would be doing with either their grandparents, parents, or their aunts and uncles. It turned out to be the best possible Christmas gift, as it included the whole family and the kids loved it.
WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ - Still not sure what to buy? Try getting the kids involved with this thoughtful family gifting tradition. We love this idea for its simplicity, and we’re sure it will create a grateful space around your Christmas tree.
Have each child create lists of things they really want, things they need; things to wear and books they’d like to read. You can then curate the list, choosing the four gifts that would truly suit each child. This simple, yet effective family gifting tradition removes the hassles of choosing gifts, and your family will love you for it!
Family Gift Tradition Ideas for Young and Older Couples
Be it for a young couple just starting out or a couple who have spent a lifetime together, the best gift to give is one that reinforces their love, gives them time together that will spark new conversations and give them new memories to share with others.
An Experience Gift Card - You really can’t go wrong with this one. Give this to a young couple and they’ll discover something new about each other… perhaps it’s a mutual love of spicy food or a night at the Theater that eventually gives them a deeper more meaningful connection. In the end, they’ll always be grateful to the person that gave them that experience together.
This is also the perfect gift to add to a gift you might have bought a family member that’s bringing along a new partner. Just slip it in her gift and make the pair feel welcome and accepted.
Older couples will also enjoy this type of gift if they are adventurous at heart - or give them a little push, they might discover something new about themselves.
Experiences to enjoy:
Dinner out - be creative (Sushi, Vegan, a Picnic or get them started on the “50 Essential Restaurants every American Should Visit” list)
Theater tickets (movies, stage performances, or even to the Drive-in theater)
A couple’s cooking class - Sur la Table has locations all over the US
Wine / Gin tasting
If you are gifting your Grandparents, consider turning the “Adventure box ” around, giving Grandparents special time with their grandchildren. Buy a few activities that they can enjoy together, this way it will be a special gift that goes both ways.
Family Gift Tradition Ideas for New Families
Has a family member just recently had a baby? Get them started on one of the most special family Christmas gifting traditions with Baby’s First Ornament. This tradition sees one (or a few!) new ornaments being added every year, to remember their special memories shared together, displayed lovingly each year on the Memory Tree.
Family Gift Tradition Ideas for Families
The Holiday to Gift Holidays - Do you really want to spoil your family? What about starting a tradition of gifting a family holiday. Experiences are invaluable and sharing this with your family will be something they will remember forever. Buy something for under the Christmas tree that gives away the destination. Taking the kids to Disneyland? Buy Mickey Mouse ears for the family, and watch their reactions as they realize what’s happening, or get creative and buy one new ornament to hide on the tree that gives it away… like Santa on the beach for a holiday at the coast. The kids will love this family surprize and parents get a gift too!
If you want to get some inspiration for starting this family tradition, just have a look at these kids’ reactions when they hear they’re going to Disneyland- hilarious!
Games for Family Fun - One of the best family gifting traditions HAS to be board games. Buying at least one new board game a year is a must and what better time to give it than at Christmas. Get into it as soon as the wrapping is opened for a fun family-friendly Christmas Day. As this tradition gets older, the games will also get more and more difficult, adding to the education factor! So, yes, do it!
Family Experience Coupons - Decide on a few fun family activities and with simple printouts create a fun family coupon booklet, add things like Pizza Night, Bowling, Movie Night, Picnic, Water park, and anything else your family loves. This is a great way to keep celebrating long after Christmas is over and your family will love you for it.
Family Gift Tradition Ideas for Unexpected Guests
When friends drop by unexpectedly over the holidays, don’t get caught empty-handed, have a little something under the tree. Wrap generic adult gifts in one paper and kids generic gifts in another, so you can easily identify what to give who. KIds from one family can all get to share one gift....like a pack of UNO cards for instance. Adults can get a tin of caramel popcorn, nuts, or wine and make this a fun family tradition by adding just enough gifts to have one for each member of your immediate family, and if no one shows up when it’s all said and done - Secret Santa!
Family Gift Tradition Ideas - Homemade gifts
Of course, everyone will love a scarf, beanie or stocking you knitted just for them, home-baked goodies from Nana, or a special hand-painted ornament to hang on their tree.....This might not be one the whole family will do, but definitely great for Grannies to spoil the family with. If you do this every year, it will become one of your Grandchildren’s favorite memories. Add some other goodies to the Gift Box and your job is done… You’ve created a special Christmas Gift Tradition that will be cherished forever...
A Special Gift Tradition for Other Special Occasions
Christmas Boxes for Everyone
Brides - Christmas Gifts don’t have to be given only at Christmas, this is something that can be given on other special occasions. One special gift that one of our clients gave to her soon to be Daughter-in-Law at her Bridal Shower was a special ornament box that she had made up especially for her. It was neatly packed in one of our premium fabric covered boxes and looked stunning under the Bridal Tree that year. The tradition continued when she gave one to each of her own Daughters at their weddings.
Newly Weds - Get them started with a special “Just Married’ Christmas Ornament and give them a gift that will house all their precious ornaments they’ll be collecting in the coming years. You will always be remembered for your considerate gift, especially at Christmas time.
Grandchildren - Start collecting ornaments for your grandchildren early, it starts with his or her first ornament, and you can make it extra special by decorating something yourself, with their name and birthdate on it. Add something each year that reminds you of them or something you did together.
Family Gift Boxes - The final special family tradition we’d like to share comes from one of our long-time customers, Marianne from New Jersey. Marianne customizes a special Gift Box for each family member using one of our Ultimate Ornament boxes: “I use these boxes for each one of my immediate family members to put their different gifts in. I give several gift cards, socks, hats, gloves and an assortment of other items that match each one of them. I find it better for them to just take their box home at the end of the dinner with their individual gifts. Nobody takes the wrong gift and nobody leaves anything behind. Their ages range from my children who are 57 and 58 along with their spouses, eight grandchildren - 38 down to 14 along with the spouses of those who have, and three great grandchildren ages 13 to 5.”
“Also, they all use them for different things when they take them home. These boxes have lives in my family.”
What we love most about this gift is that it goes beyond the initial idea, as the box which holds the gifts gets used in their homes as a functional item, so thoughtful.
Family is one of the most important things in our lives, and it’s important to show it around Christmas. Make sure this year to be thoughtful with your gifts, make memories and share experiences, these are the things we take with us in life, and these are the gifts we should be giving.