Gifts of Meaning: Investing in Experiences for Teens This Christmas

By Brittany Stewart

by Danielle Dolin

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15

A simple web search for “Christmas Gift ideas for teens” generates a catalog of hundreds of new gadgets and the latest toys. From cutting-edge eye massagers to miniature bonsai trees, the list of useless gadgets is extensive. Honestly, many of those techy gadgets geared for teens cost a fortune and end up in the depths of their desk drawers, never to be seen again. Even more, a lot of our teens are growing out of the LEGO stage, and adding to your storage bunker is not ideal. We want the gifts to be worth the money spent and impact our teens’ lives. The latest tech watch is not going to deliver a lasting impact. The best gifts are the most meaningful and create long-lasting memories. Memories your teens can share with you! Truly significant and purposeful gifts are investments in time. This Christmas season, try traversing a different gift-giving landscape. Try gifting experiences and invest in your Teens!

Experience gifting should be the opposite of material gifts. Although some material gifts may enhance the experience, like a mountain bike, a new pair of roller skates, or a camping tent, the idea is to deliver experiences to the teens in your life, rather than hand them yet another version of the latest Xbox. When gifting experiences, focus on memory-making. Choose gifts that the teens in your life will truly cherish. Even more, choose gifts they can experience with you! The memories made are priceless, and that is exactly why experience gifts are so impactful.

Here are 10 fantastic, experience-driven gifts that can render long-lasting memories and possibly offer that hormonal teen, confused about which way is up, some self-perspective and personal growth!

1. Memberships

Memberships are the gifts that keep on giving! Some ideas are Gym Memberships, Zoo Memberships, Memberships to the local Aquarium or Museums, Indoor Rock Climbing Memberships, Hiking Passes, etc. These memberships can also get other friends involved in the fun! Rather than your teen looking down, texting all afternoon, they can meet up at their new membership spot and make some memories.

2. Theme Parks

Lego Land, Castles and Coasters, Universal Studios…

Is your teen a Harry Potter fan? Have they begged all year to go test out the new roller coaster at a certain theme park? Well, get them some tickets! Wrap them in a giant box or stuff them in their stocking. This is a gift that will surely deliver, and your teen will be so excited to go. I hear some screaming in your future!

3. Performance tickets

For that teen that is a budding musician, look up local concerts in your area and purchase some tickets. For the athlete, maybe tickets to an upcoming basketball game. For the drama queen: a theater production, Broadway, or musical! You can make this a family affair and perhaps add to the excitement by arranging to get your teen’s BFF tickets too!

4. Adventure Gift Card

For your adventurous teen, let them choose a new adventure! Some ideas are hot air balloon rides, zip line adventures, and indoor skydiving experiences. Giving them a homemade gift certificate titled, “Choose Your Own Adventure” puts them in the driver’s seat. And teens like to be given the freedom to choose for themselves. Don’t forget to go along for the ride with your teen!

5. Local Activities

There are often plenty of good local deals for experience gifts. A day with friends at a trampoline park, cosmic bowling, an arcade day, paintballing with the family, escape rooms, smash rooms, movie passes, and so much more! A search for local deals in your web browser or simply searching Groupon will yield more options than you can handle.

6. Staycation

Book a staycation at one of your local resorts in town! Many resorts have lavish pools with water slides, swim-up smoothie bars, and swim-up movies. Some even offer indoor water parks! This is a family adventure your teen is sure to love, and often times, the price is comparable to that new video game they were talking about. Make some memories instead. You never know; it could turn into a family tradition.

7. Classes

We all have those teens in our life who are constantly crafting or asking to make a new dish. Enroll them in a class that fits their interests. Cooking classes, painting classes, pottery classes, knitting, jewelry making, metalworking, woodcutting SCUBA Certification…the list is endless. Your local YMCA, neighborhood recreation center, or online search are all good places to start looking!

8. Annual or semi-annual subscriptions

My daughter received a makeup subscription last year for Christmas. It lasted for 6 months. She asked for it again this year. Subscriptions are a great way to consistently gift something for a while. Many times you can choose the duration of the subscription. For the chefs in the house, try Blue Apron or Hello Fresh; for the future engineers and scientists, Kiwico is a great subscription. The Crafter’s Box is perfect for all the crafty teens, Storyworth for our storytellers, headspace for the mindful teens.

9. Room makeover

This is a home run for teens! Harness that personality and build something together. Your teen wants their own special space. Life gets super busy and making that space for your teen gets overlooked with the day-to-day grind. This Christmas, gift a room makeover. You could even document it, like they do on HGTV!

10. Parent-child Date

For families that are ever so busy or those with many children, the unspoken gift of time with a parent is the most priceless. Focusing on one child at a time bequeaths precious one-on-one time we often don’t have. Some ideas are a parent-child hike, a spa day, or ice cream and Frisbee golf. The key here is to center this experience around something your teen enjoys; maybe even getting nostalgic and doing something you used to when they were young. Something as simple as jumping on the trampoline together or building a fort. It may seem silly, but that one-on-one time is key to investing in your children.

Waking up to gifts under the tree is always exciting! But, this year, for your teens, wrap up an experience! All of the aforementioned ideas are sure to add an element of surprise this year and also long-lasting memories for the teens in your life. Give them something that will actually bring them excitement and joy! Invest in them, and the memories will be everlasting.

Brittany Stewart, an accomplished writer and educator, draws inspiration from her 23-year marriage and upbringing near Lake Tahoe in Verdi, Nevada, now residing in Tucson, Arizona. With her Bachelor’s degree in Education, emphasizing Native American Literature and Journalism, Brittany is a multifaceted professional who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. She is deeply involved in Tucson’s homeschooling community, leading a homeschool group, teaching dance, and offering art classes. She and her family have a homestead in Southern Arizona, where her husband hunts and she tends to the garden, emphasizing the importance of God and family in her life while continually seeking adventure through her travels.

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