The holidays are the season for buying all the stuff, right? This is when we ply our kids with piles of gifts! But does it have to be? A few years ago, I started asking for experiences instead of things as gifts. First of all, I noticed the piles of things were adding up. Who wants to clean and maintain a bunch of stuff? #mom
But I also noticed that the expectation, and imagining and then the moment of opening it was what I liked most. I love the excitement, joy, and love that comes with the big reveal! In that moment, knowing the person put so much thought into that gift. But then after the holiday was over, the paper was cleaned up, and the thing was stashed. And while the first few times I used it, I might get some of that emotional rush again, eventually, the thing became just another thing.
Even with gifts I loved, I can’t tell you how many times I might remember who got me a thing but not whether it was birthday or Christmas. That means that the surrounding events are no longer attached to the thing for me, years later. Ultimately, that’s the good stuff! I want those memories – the ones of connectedness, togetherness, love, more than I wanted another thing.
Gifting experiences and things that will hold and build memories is possible, even for long distance parents! And maybe it’s most important for long distance parents. After all, we are raising kids who are not with us for long periods of time. We want to be loved and remembered. And most of all, we want our children to know they are loved and remembered.
Gifting experiences that build memories
Building memories will give you and your child something to treasure in your time apart. What I mean by building memories is creating experiences you will remember.
Although these things would be done when you are together, there is no reason you couldn’t gift it on a holiday in which you are not together. What a cool suspense it would build to gift something over the holidays that you will do together over spring break! Think about all of the excited conversations you can have about it in the mean time.
- A trip! Although this can be costly, it’s possible to take a trip on a budget!
- A roadtrip is pretty easy to do on any budget and I personally love, love, love roadtrips.
- Although I don’t recommend cruises during a pandemic, they can be really affordable vacations. My son had the most fun on a cruise we took together. All the food they can eat, pools, events, shows. They basically don’t care about the destination but that’s icing on the cake. Some cruises are even made for kids!
- A trip to spend time with distant family. My son and I flew across the country to spend a weekend with my sister and her family one year. Not only did he get to meet his aunt, uncle and cousins for the first time, we had a whole lot of fun in the process. Our major expense was the flights. We shared an airbnb with my sister’s family and it was pretty reasonable.
- A camping trip, just the two of you. My son’s dad took him camping a couple of times. I heard stories! It definitely went down as memorable time together.
- Exotic things you’ve never done before that don’t require travel. By exotic, I mean things that some people never do – like skydiving, swimming with or feeding a specific captive wild animal, snorkeling, or a helicopter ride over the city.
- A weekend packed with all the fun. These don’t have to be exotic experiences. A girls/guys weekend, for example, where you do all the things that kids imagine grown up people get to do all the time like spa treatments and live sports.
- Tickets to a local amusement park. Or a summer of amusement park tickets, if you live somewhere with several amusement parks.
- A day long crafting class together – like a woodworking class, or a pottery class. Or a day of horseback riding with a picnic lunch
The sky is really the limit. Consider what your kid is into and figure out how to make it into a giftable experience instead of buying a thing. You can gift it as simply as gifting a ticket. However, you could also put together pictures, an itinerary and a calendar, marking the dates so your child has something to fawn over.
Gifts that hold memories
If you are buying things for a person, consider what they might hold close for the long haul because of it’s emotional meaning.
- A framed photo of a moment that is part of a great memory
- A piece of jewelry that is engraved with names and a date. For kids, consider an adjustable bracelet or a necklace so that they can use it through growing. (there is even stuff a person with more masculine leaning taste might like)(affiliate links)
- A compilation of photos and videos. Maybe all of their baby photos or favorite photos of stuff you’ve done together. Maybe all of the family members they don’t get to see often.
- You could put them all into your favorite sharing service or on a digital photo frame. (affiliate link)
- My son STILL (at 21) has his beloved box of photos (albeit in a more adult looking box now). It is a great, tactile idea for younger kids or even older kids that like having physical photos to hang onto.
- One of my son’s most treasured possessions when he was young was a build a bear stuffed animal that had recorded messages on it from his dad’s family. I think this is still in my garage in his stored stuff too. He could pinch the ear or the arm and it would play different messages recorded by different family members.
The product links to amazon products I recommend in this post are amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase the advertised products on this page, you won’t pay any more for the product and I will earn a small commission, which helps support the site. Win win!
Gifts that build togetherness
And finally, rounding out our “experiences as gifts” suggestions, are the gifts that can actually help create togetherness. These gifts help you and your child share closeness in real time. These are things that are outside the ordinary apps and phones that you might consider.
Bond Touch Bracelets share touch
Bond Touch Bracelets – although they are marketed for long distance romantic relationships, there is no reason they wouldn’t work just as well for parents and kids. Basically, you both wear a bracelet and when one of you touches your bracelet, the other bracelet vibrates and lights up. How cool is that?! You can get wristbands in all sorts of colors and they can be adjusted down to child sizes. They are waterproof and have long battery life.
Long distance parent considerations : With kids, keeping it charged would be a consideration. Consider sending an extra usb charging cable (or 5, if your kid is like mine) along with it. It also requires an app on a phone so this would be best suited for kids that have their own phone. If you want it shipped directly to your child from amazon, instead of buying the pair together, buy two bands individually and have one shipped to your child and one to you.
Echo Show is an instant direct video connection
Echo Show is the – easiest – video – chatting – device ever, in my experience, so far. This is one I did for my son last year. Even though he’s an adult now, he’s in college and we still have the same challenges staying connected. So last year, I bought us a pair of Echo Shows. The cool thing about this is it’s something that can stay connected in his room and my living room and all I (or he) has to do is say “Alexa, call mom/son”. Before you know it, you’re video chatting in real time. It really is as easy as it looks in the commercials. I got a stand for each of us to make it more adjustable.
Considerations for long distance parents : The Echo show does have to be connected to an amazon account. It can be your account or your co-parent’s account. When you buy it, there will be an option to have it pre-connected to your amazon account. Choose that on yours. Choose that on your child’s if your child’s will be on your account. There are features to make it a more kid-safe device but you should have a conversation with your co-parent before buying them this. There are also device settings that pertain to privacy that should be set. To avoid having your co-parent have to set it up, put it on your account, ship it to yourself, get it all set up and then ship it to your child. Your co-parent might still have to help them connect it to wifi, if your child is very young.
Friendship Lamps – touch to connect!
Friendship Lamps are another gift in the super cool devices category. Touch your lamp and your child’s lamp will change colors. They touch theirs and your lamp will change colors. In real time, have a color war and all the giggles! What a cool way to play together over the distance, or just to know you’re thinking about each other. If the Tiffany-esque look isn’t your style, check out the modern look. To my knowledge, these don’t require an app, but it does require wifi.
Considerations for long distance parents : Similar to the watches, if you want one shipped directly to your child, buy two single lamps instead. There are instructions on the product page for linking them. Because of it’s simplicity, this option might be best suited for younger kids of the three options.
What gadgets for togetherness have you tried? What gifts have you given to your kids that built memories? Tell me in the comments!