Trading Less Stuff For More Memories

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that vacations and such are a very big thing for our family.  We love to camp.  An annual trip to an indoor water park is almost required.  We’ve had a couple of great trips down to Florida.  We have really come to notice how our family just works so well when we’re on the move.   Over time, we have created many more memories through our travel than in many other areas of life.

Experiences Turn Into More Memories

After our last trip, we sat down and talked as a family.  Even though our kids are young (7 and 5), we talked to them about our trip and how great it was.  We also talked about how much vacations mean to us.  Part of our discussion centered on how many things they remember from our various trips.

The kids got it right away.  They started talking about trips that we’ve taken for as many years back as their young minds can remember.  Remember that time at Disney?  Oh yeah, and that one time at the water park!

It was really cool to watch.

Tossing Out The Idea Of A Trade Off

We talked to the kids and pointed out that trips seem to create more memories.  They fully agreed. They got the point right away that even though they’ve had lots of cool gifts along the way, that they are harder to remember as time goes on.  Ask them about a gift they got three years ago and they might remember it, but bring up a trip the same time, and they’ll definitely throw out some recollections.

That’s pretty cool.

So, we brought up the idea of, as a family, starting to cut back on gifts.  We wouldn’t eliminate them altogether, but

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

instead of, for example, six gifts at Christmas, maybe we get three.  The difference would be put aside so that we could make sure that we have the means to travel.

What do you think they said?

It was an enthusiastic YES!

Putting This Into Practice

Our kids birthdays are coming up in the next couple of months. We started talking about plans for their birthday, and our daughter (the five year old) brought up, without prompting, that she would be getting fewer gifts.

And she was 100% cool with it.  She totally got it!  That brought a warmth to our heart.

So, we’ll see how things go.  The kids agreed.  My wife and I even agreed with each other that we’d cut back.  Our ten year anniversary is coming up this fall, and we already discussed instead of getting each other a bigger gift, which is something we’d been talking about, that maybe we would…..

…take a small trip instead.


Bet you saw that one coming?

Readers, how do you balance ‘stuff’ with ‘experiences’ in your household?  Have you ever made an active and conscious trade-off as we’re putting out there?  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.  Thanks so much for reading.


11 thoughts on “Trading Less Stuff For More Memories”

  1. I’m a HUGE fan of experiences over stuff. Thankfully so is my wife. I’m sitting in our RV, camped in a state park surrounded by trees and the sounds of birds, as I write this comment! 🙂

    There have been a number of studies over the years that experiences actually do bring quite a lot more joy/happiness than stuff. Everyone should at least experiment with some shifts to see how it works out for them. They might be surprised.

  2. Thank you for sharing this insight. I’m just catching on to the lovely community of people who choose experiences over consumerism. I will explore how I can implement this in my own life starting this year. I also grew up with a mindset that holidays and travel are for the special ones or the rich but I am seeing just how wrong I was. The dividends that a lovely experience pays are huge. Thanks once more

  3. I think this is a great idea. Not only are you making more memories, you are teaching your kids great life lessons. Not to mention, you’re right. It is the times we spend with our friends and family that we look back on and treasure much more than some gift we got ten years ago that we don’t even remember.

    This past Christmas my family did the same type of thing. Instead of buying a bunch of gifts that none of us actually needed, we rented a condo on the beach in Florida.

  4. This is so wonderful. I love that you spoke with the kids and everyone is on board. My husband and I stopped exchanging gifts 3 or 4 years ago. Instead, we are saving for early retirement with a few experiences thrown in every once in a while. Cause yeah, those beaches!

  5. That’s awesome that even at such young ages the concept has totally clicked in your kids’ minds that experiences are more important than stuff. Love it! Those vacations will create lifelong memories!

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