Gifts of Experiences Over Gifts of Things

As a child I was overwhelmed with gifts and parties, while all I ever wanted was for my family to spend time with me and give me some attention. Actually I did get attention, but it was never the good kind. Now a mom to 2 gorgeous boys, I swear by gifts of experiences over gifts of things.

Travel is our fav gift of experience

My eldest, Ashton turned 16 on the 12th of February and we couldn’t decide how to celebrate. We initially considered a party but almost immediately dropped that idea and opted for a short getaway to Mauritius. A tad extra one might say but everyday together is a victory when raising a child living with mental health issues. Ashton’s challenges have taught us the true value of life. We are deliberate in our celebration of life and are beyond grateful for all our blessings. We take nothing for granted and cherish every single moment we have together (even when they are driving me crazy). I am intent on raising children who have an appreciation for different cultures, nature and the beauty God has bestowed upon us.

Ziplining Adventures

Outings, experiences & vacations are “valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterward in their memory,” psychologist and best-selling author Oliver James explained to The Telegraph. “It’s all about talking nonsense with your parents, sharing an ice cream and moments of time in which your interests are genuinely taken into account. So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense.”

We traded parties for experiences

One Easter approximately 8 years ago when we lived in Cape Town, we decided to stop spending our money on elaborate gifts and parties. Now don’t get me wrong, I love throwing kiddies themed parties. My children have been blessed to have had the most incredible parties to date. But once the party was over, gifts added to the pile of toys in their rooms and cake eaten, all they wanted was time with us. Truth is, that is all every child really wants. My kids don’t miss the parties or gifts to be honest. Last Christmas they woke up only to love, hugs and kisses. No presents were exchanged and they weren’t even phased.

Keen to know how we adventure, then you can read more about our December 2019 adventures in Clarens, Drakensberg and Lesotho.

river fun
December Vacay 2019

Bucket List Family

We traded birthday parties, elaborate Easter and Christmas celebrations for experiences. Experiences of adventure and exploration. We are what you would call a Bucket List Family. We are a proudly South African family and discovering every inch of our beautiful country is what we are about. In fact we have visited every province and have lived in 4 major South African cities. The boys have also travelled to Thailand, Lesotho and now Mauritius. I asked the boys to share some of their favourite experiences and this is the list they gave me:-

  • Sand-boarding in Atlantis
  • Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
  • Whale watching in Hermanus
  • Big 5 Safaris in the Kruger National Park
  • Tiger Encounter in Thailand
  • Elephant encounters in Knysna and Hartebeesport
  • Swam in a coral reef in the Pacific Ocean
  • Shark cage diving at Ushaka Marine World
  • Horse riding in Drakensberg mountains
  • Elephant trekking in the jungle in Thailand (we obviously love ellies)
  • Visited Robin Island
  • Explored the Cango Caves, Wonder Caves and Sterkfontein Caves
  • Visited the Cradle of Human Kind
  • Stayed in the Palace of the Lost City
  • We adventured up Sani Pass into Lesotho
  • Swam with penguins at Boulders Beach
  • Discovered the beauty of Blyde River Canyon
  • Adventured in the Garden Route
  • Visited Seal Island
  • Ziplining
  • Quad bike safaris
  • Visited numerous gardens and nature reserves
  • Made our way up the Soweto Towers
  • River rafting

Check out more of our experiences by clicking HERE.

Experiences help us reconnect

Aside from cellphones, electronics are left at home when we travel. We use our experiences as an opportunity for digital detox and to reconnect with nature and one another. My children have become accustomed to our way of life and fully embrace living from one adventure to the next.

Our first experiences of 2020

After surprising Ashton with a holiday in Mauritius we couldn’t resist striking a few more items of our Bucket List. But that’s a topic for another day.

Gifts of experiences last a lifetime

Gifts of experiences over gifts of things are much more intrinsically fulfilling. They have a way of contributing to ones happiness so much more than material things. You also won’t need to find a place to store your experiences except in your heart, memory and maybe the photos you take.

With our value systems constantly being infringed upon, it is experiences that help restore the family unit. Experiences keep us grounded and help us appreciate and connect.

We’d love to know your thoughts on Gifts of Experiences over Gifts of Things, so make sure to drop us a comment.


    1. Author

      True story hey

  1. Agreed 100%. We’re also trying to gift experiences rather than materialistic gifts. The value of the experience far outweighs the materialistic gift. The experience is something to treasure and like you said kept in your heart and memory, hopefully for a very long time. It’s all about exposing them to new possibilities in life ❤. Happy birthday to Ashton. I can imagine that it was fun fun fun xx

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for the birthday wishes for Ashton. Was amazing

  2. This is an excellent idea, especially since my boys, who are more or less the same ages as yours, are not that into parties anymore. And it’s a lot easier to arrange a family vacation than a party for a houseful of teens because everyone in the family has a holiday task, where the entire party is on my shoulders.

    1. Author

      And you guys love travelling so it is ideal

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