How to give the best gift

My absolutely favorite present to give one of my child’s friends is an experience.  I don’t believe in “here are 2 tickets to a movie, have fun.”  That can actually be a burden on the family.  If you only give them enough for 2 they might have to find a babysitter for other kids, it might cost more than what you bought them, they have to schedule it and often times those type of gift cards expire if the family is already overbooked.

My present is a simple card that says, “Happy Birthday, I will take you to (insert fun place or a special adventure to be determined) for your birthday.  I immediately make arrangements with their mom and put it on the calendar.  I call this an accompanied experience gift.

Why this is the best gift:

  1. I didn’t have to go shopping at a store.
  2. If you typically spend $20-25 per present the birthday child will typically get a toy that is very similar to one they already have, Is low quality and breaks easily, or will only be played with for a short time. This is a cheap alternative without looking cheap.
  3. An accompanied experience gift does not add to a family’s already cluttered life of stuff.
  4. Taking a child on an adventure adds to this child and your child’s bonding and strengthens their friendship. They get one to one time with a friend in a cool place they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to experience together.
  5. It might give the parents an opportunity for a free date night. I was recently thanked for taking one of my child’s friends on an adventure while the parents were able to spend a solo night with their sibling who needed some extra attention.
  6. It gives you an opportunity to get to know your child’s friend in a public outing.  Are they a good influence for your child?
  7. It’s cheaper than most toys I would buy for a birthday present.  I’m going to take my children to fun places regardless of whether we are taking a birthday kid too.  Adding an extra kid to the mix is very affordable. 
  8. If you have dabbled in simple living or minimizing your belongings to decrease stress and clutter in your life, giving an accompanied experience fits in balance with your new ideals.  You are role model.

My favorite ideas in Omaha

  1. Kid’s Warrior Gym
  2. Movie on a Tuesday night ($5 movie and free popcorn)
  3. Urban Air on a discount night.
  4. Rose Theater for live shows.
  5. Roller or Ice skating
  6. Bounce U
  7. Mahoney State Park activity center
  8. There’s no shame in searching Groupon for discounted ideas.

I always make sure to get a candid picture of the kids being awesome and then print it for both kids as a memento.

Our most recent adventure was at Mahoney State Park activity center.  I paid $2 for the extra child’s ticket and an extra Jimmy John sandwich.  That is a $10 birthday present and the child said it was the “best day of their life!”

Another adventure was with 2 birthday kids and the total cost for Macaroni and Cheese and Urban Air was $34 for both birthday kids. That’s less than I would have spent on a gift.

Again, I take my kids to these places ANYWAY.  The birthday kid makes it more fun for my kid and I can sit back, read a book and pat myself on the back for a great (and cheap) gift!

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