We try to live a lifestyle of “more experiences, less stuff”. Far from true minimalists, we would rather go and do and see — than buy and own and store. It works for us. And so far, it works for Colt. He will grow into his own style, but I hope a childhood of experiences will influence a lifetime of prioritizing memories over mementos.  It’s far from flawless, but we’ve found a balance that serves us well and keeps our lives simple(r) and happy and fulfilled.

This year at Christmas, our extended family truly embraced this idea and we couldn’t help noticing how little “stuff” we carried in from the car when we got home from our annual road trip last night. It made us smile, and it made the special gifts we received even MORE special — because they weren’t lost in a crowd.

I want to share this gift from Colt’s Aunt Lynn. She traveled with us this summer to Washington D.C. and saw firsthand how much Colt enjoys seeing and doing and learning. For Christmas, she gave him this:

experiences not stuff

I LOVE IT. And I want to share it as one simple idea for families to try. Many kids get “Birthday Money” or “Christmas Money” — and this is no different. But the spirit of this, “for fun experiences… not stuff!” is one we can all try in small ways this next year. This takes the lifestyle I mentioned — the going and doing and seeing — and makes it a teachable moment. It shows kids (that are old enough) that we can make choices with our money — and that THEY can make choices with THEIR money. Colt travels and has amazing memories and experiences with us and with many of our friends and family members — but putting the power of choice in his hands, and challenging him to run with it — is a beautiful gift.

You don’t have to change your lifestyle in big ways, but what if you challenge your kids to think of a way to spend their Christmas money on something other than “stuff” this year?

It could be something you do together, or something they do with friends.  You never know, this could be the start of a new tradition.

Buy experiences, not things. Spending on experiences makes people happier than spending on things. Things get broken and go out of style.
Experiences get better every time you talk about them.
– Jean Chatzky

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