Shared Experiences Create Wonderful Memories
There has been a trend in recent years to minimize consumerism and clutter by buying less things during the holidays. It might be a nice change to give “experiences” instead of things to older children and other loved ones. Most kids and many adults don’t really need more material things. (Bonus: ordering gift certificates is so easy by phone or computer.)
These experiences turn into memories–you can’t have too many great memories from childhood.
  • Give a child a hand-made coupon or card with a promise to go to the children’s museum to see that new exhibit, a get-away ski weekend or ice-skating at your local pond–complete with lunch and hot chocolate afterwards. It’s best to suggest a date so this promise is seen as concrete.
  • Give a spouse a coupon can be for a dinner and movie or a concert. It is best to be pretty specific with this plan of an IOU. It might be fun to design a coupon that includes all the suggested details and dates.
Give gift certificates for services that we see as splurges, such as:
  • car detailing or car washes
  • pet grooming
  • sports event
  • manicure/pedicure
  • hair salon/barber shop appointment
  • house cleaning services
  • personal training or nutritional counseling
  • a massage or other body work
  • a facial
  • window cleaning
  • landscaping
  • a get away at a B & B
  • an ice skating class
  • a class at the local adult ed program
  • professional organizing services 
  • professional family portrait
Personally, I would take almost any of the above for myself as a recipient. Or a nice bottle of booze. You can also give wine, a nice olive oil or high quality chocolate as a consumable gift.
One more option to minimize the consumerism part of the holidays is to get together with friends and family and go on a “holiday play-date”, such as an ice-skating party, cross-country skiing (at night!), a nature walk or a drive through the most over-the-top holiday-decorated neighborhoods in lieu of exchanging gifts. Who knows, you and your family could start a new tradition (and create less clutter) for years to come.