7 Last Minute Christmas Gifts that Aren’t “Stuff”

Scrambling for last-minute gifts is often part of the week before Christmas. All that scrambling can leave us stressed. We often end up either spending too much or getting something, anything, just to have a gift to give. Let’s face it, most of us don’t need more “stuff” anyway. Why not consider a different kind of gift this year?

In the past few years, our family has been on a purposeful journey to change the way we give gifts. There are a few presents under the tree for our children and other loved ones, but the majority of our gifts these days are experiences. The gift of an experience is twofold. It’s a fun time while it’s happening, plus it provides a great memory for the recipient. Choosing memories over the material has been an overwhelmingly positive change for our family.

Here are seven suggestions for giving gifts that have substance but aren’t “stuff”.

1. Date Night (Plus a Sitter)

Want to be a hero? Anyone with kids would LOVE to get a gift certificate to a restaurant and a “voucher” for a babysitter. Send the parents out for the evening and watch their kiddos. We’ve done this for my sisters in the past. It was a great opportunity for them to refresh and recharge with their spouses as well as a fun chance to hang out with our nieces and nephews.

2. Coffee and Conversation

Got a friend or relative you rarely get to see? Give the gift of a date on the calendar to go out for a cup of coffee or even lunch. Carve out an hour or two to chat and catch up over a good cuppa joe. Even if you have to plan it for a month or two out, get it on the calendar and have something fun to look forward to. The gift of time is priceless.

3. Memberships

Gifting a yearly membership to the zoo, a museum or some other kind of attraction allows families the flexibility to go out together whenever they want. They don’t have to commit ahead of time to a certain date. It also allows for repeated memory-making throughout the year. We are big fans of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. We are gifting my adult daughter and her husband a membership this year so that they can go whenever they like.

4. Health and Beauty

Getting a gift certificate for a massage or a pedicure is a real treat for me. Sometimes I don’t want to spend the money on myself. When I get a gift like this, I enjoy a bit of pampering. Tired mamas and ladies everywhere will tell you that this is a perfect gift for a little “me time”. Having a gift certificate makes it more likely that I will take time out to get refreshed.

5. Movie Gift Cards

Going to the movies can be expensive these days, especially if you have kids. Giving a gift card for the movies with a couple of boxes of movie theater candy is a great gift idea. Also, if you live somewhere that is cold in the wintertime, it’s a great way to get out of the house but stay out of the elements.

6. Let’s Get Together

I haven’t seen a good friend of mine in a while. I called her recently and had to leave a message. She called me back and had to do the same. I was delighted to hear her voicemail suggest that instead of exchanging Christmas gifts this year, we go bowling together with our kids. Whatever money we would have spent on gifts will instead be spent having a good time bowling, eating snacks, and catching up. You can also do this at a trampoline park, roller-skating rink, or some other family activity venue.

7. Special Events

My teenage nephews are getting harder to buy for. They also moved about forty-five minutes away last year, so we see them less frequently. As a result, we have decided to start giving them special event gifts. These gifts are the same as what we give our own children so that the cousins can have a special time together. We took them to see TobyMac in concert a couple of years ago. They loved it so we are taking them again as a special treat this year. We just checked with their parents to be sure they were free. Just print up a little “certificate” that announces this special event and wrap it up for them.

I hope you’ll consider giving the gift of time and memories this year. It’s been about five years since we started this tradition and we will never go back to piles of presents under the tree. Our children talk about the memories we’ve made and eagerly wait for the next surprise each Christmas.

Have a Merry Memory-Filled Christmas!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Ditching the Material for the Manger: 6 Ways Parents Can Foster a More Meaningful Christmas




Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.

4 thoughts on “7 Last Minute Christmas Gifts that Aren’t “Stuff”

  1. Excellent ideas you list here. My
    brother and his family live in
    Vietnam. I asked him if we could
    forego the mailed gifts and go out
    to dinner when they come home to
    visit in the summer. He agreed.
    The experience of spending quality
    time with them without the
    cooking and cleanup is more
    meaningful. It was also be
    remembered more than a tangible
    gift. Time waits for no one. Enjoy
    the simple treasures of

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