Christmas Gifts or New Traditions: Which Counts More?

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Which would you rather do with a thousand dollars? Plan a trip someplace you’ve never been, or buy new things for your home or family?

Fun experiences or fun things? It’s really a matter of personal preference.

Years ago, hands down I would have gone with a shopping spree over any kind of vacation.

Perhaps I’m getting old, but I can feel myself shifting away from preferring traditional gifts and appreciating experiences and memories.

Cute biracial siblings- Whimsical photos with Santa Claus- behind the scenes

For the last five years I’ve felt like one of my greatest achievements day to day is being the reason my kids laugh. I love finding ways to make them smile. Not just with gifts, but activities, and other things I think they’d love.

My husband and I decided Christmas is going to be pretty “small” this year. Our 11th anniversary is two days before Christmas, and my birthday is 20 days after. We’re wrapping it all into a family vacation a few weeks before the holiday.

There will be less gifts on Christmas, but I think more fun overall. Some of the gifts will be wrapped into pre-Christmas memories.

I ordered my husband a new blazer and saved $100 during the Sears members only Black Friday sale over the weekend. The last suit he bought was before his mission and he recently mentioned wanting a new one. I conspicuously measured his chest so I could pick the right size, then did an in vehicle pick-up where they brought it out to my car so the kids and I didn’t need to face the craziness at the mall (you can also use this service for returns and exchanges).

Now see, I’d save the jacket for Christmas except he could use it on the cruise. So it’ll be a gift that starts giving a little early. I’m thinking the kids will help pick out another gift to give to daddy, and the Christmas memories we make together over the next month will be the real treat.

Whimsical photos with Santa Claus- behind the scenes

Yes, there will still be Santa (we do Santa) but I’m going to invest in making this year’s Christmas extra special not just on the day, but all month long. From the music, hot chocolate, decorating, and giving back; the time we spend together will be a huge part of the magic.

It’s not just my husband’s gift I’m arranging a little early. I’ve always thought there was something extra special about Christmas tree trains. I’d surprise Big T for Christmas but what’s the fun in not having it up until next Christmas? I’m planning to order one for the family and set it up around the base of the tree to start a new tradition of decorating that I’m sure we’ll all love for years!

When Lil’ J met Santa for a photoshoot last weekend, she leaned over and whispered in his ear. While wearing her surprise bright red Santa dress from, she told him she wants Playdoh, a BYU Cheerleader outfit and pink pom poms for Christmas. I think he can handle that. And us? Well, there may not be as many presents under the tree, but we’ll be arranging the magical memories I hope will last a lifetime.

What would you do with $100 from Sears? Get someone a gift? Start a new tradition?

Share in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card from Sears! Giveaway ends December 1st. Good luck!

Winner alert: winner #13: K. Elizabeth. Congratulations!

This story was written in partnership with Sears as a part of the Sears Bloggers Squad. Check out the early Black Friday deals and more taking place November 26th and 27th. And be sure to visit shop from the comfort of your own home and find out more information about the sales.

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  1. I am a huge believer in experiences over things!
    This year I have purchased tickets to a BIG basketball game for the whole family to go to together! I can’t wait to see the look on my mother’s face (she will die!). Creating memories in my opinion is always better than anything material! I always use the deathbed as a point of reference and ask myself questions like…”When I’m on my deathbed will I be thinking about that sweater in my closet or will I be remembering our family trip to Barbados?”

  2. I’m into a bit of both, but with the emphasis on giving gifts rather than receiving them. We recently welcomed our second child and it became more evident than ever that time together is more important. Our toddler has, thankfully, sought out ways to entertain himself when I can’t get away from the baby so I make an extra effort to spend as much individual time with him as I can when the baby is asleep or with Daddy. With the holidays upon us, I think it’s a perfect time to stress the value of time spent and experiences.

  3. Experience for sure. While gifts are fun let’s face it, they break and get forgotten. Hubby and I decided early on that we would not do Christmas with focus on gifts. We do one gift and one Santa and that’s it. I make an advent calendar and really focus on giving. Valentina has asked for a jump rope! I love that she isn’t wanting the latest toys.

  4. Experiences over presents!! With 2 little boys, I am sooooo excited to start memorable holiday traditions! We’ll bake and decorate cookies, sing Christmas songs and dance as we decorate the tree (the boys will have one of their own to decorate however they wish), and I just ordered a train for around the tree (big train-loving boys here)! It’s all about fun, laughter, and the magic that is Christmas, I just love watching their little faces light up with excitement and wonder! I can’t wait!!

  5. I think a little bit of both works. For me, making memories is better than any material gift, but I’m sure for my 5 year old, opening a gift is better. The older he gets and can remember events, my husband and I have been doing more memory making in the form of trips etc. He’s into collecting acorns, stones, sticks and pinecones, so this year he and I will be making a lot of our Christmas decor.

  6. I was just thinking about this last night. (Not about Sears curbside service, but about memories. :D) And I only remember one Christmas gift I received when I was tiny, but I do remember the traditions and things we received every year. After my mom lost her job (single mother of five) we spent our time eating in a local soup kitchen, which extended through the holiday season. After that year, my mom would take us to volunteer in that same soup kitchen, and anywhere else. Once I became a teenager, instead of getting grounded, I had forced service hours at a local nursing home where I would read to people who couldn’t read to themselves.

    There’s that meme floating around that says, “Kids don’t remember their best day of television.” And that’s true. They remember experiences and the way they felt, and I think that’s true for all people. We had our second babe a few months ago, so, aside from some needed clothes, Christmas is being handmade this year.

  7. Experience, hands down! In my home we are currently decluttering in a major way. Choosing experiences over things is one way to help keep us from bringing so many things we don’t need into our home:).

  8. Hmmmm…with $100 from sears I would probably buy an outdoor christmas decoration since they look so pretty but they tend to be pricey.

  9. I’m all about experience over gifts. Time and memories are way more important than anything you can buy in the store.

    With $100 from Sears I would take my kids to buy hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves for our local homeless shelters. They’re very much in need this year!

  10. Experiences are what the children really remember so we try to balance the making memories with gift giving and always make sure to donate gifts to families in need.

    With $100 from Sears I would check a few gifts off my shopping list. We have a goal to use only cash this year — no credit! ?

  11. I would buy our girls some new pjs that they have been wanting. They seem to always like fun new ones and we don’t buy them unless we need to not just for fun.

  12. It’s the best of both worlds around these parts because my children each have different love languages and preferences. So, I try to combine both. We don’t ever go overboard on the gifts because my mom and sister outdo every year. However, this year we are definitely leaning more towards incorporating new traditions. For example, we’re doing an advent calendar and I’m celebrating Kwanzaa with the kids for the first time.

    Also, we’re keeping the tradition alive of making Jesus a birthday cake and reading the story of his birth.

  13. With $100 giftcard to Sears I would probably take the kids Christmas shopping. The kids could pick out a gift for Daddy and some toys to donate to toy drives.

  14. I would use the gift card for new shoes for my three year old and baby. Seems like they are only wearing hand me downs from my five year old. And, we’re hoping to take them on a (road) trip for a late Christmas present, so everyone will need good shoes!

  15. I think I’d actually get something for myself, like new jeans. And maybe new boots for my teenage exchange student. Or I could also use it to get more Christmas décor!

  16. We do a little bit of both over here, but as I try to declutter I’m definitely leaning towards experiences over gifts! 🙂

  17. As I look around at the toys scattered all over my living room and the kids’ rooms, I’m definitely craving experience over material stuff. HOWEVER…I do value that Christmas morning experience, as it was obviously one of my favorite memories growing up. Not that we wouldn’t have a few little things anyway, but honestly, the memorable experiences tend to be more pricey than our standard Christmas, so it’s hard. I honestly almost told my 7yo about Santa the other day because his insistence that he needed something that cost $200 was really bothering me. If he didn’t have a little brother that I KNEW he would spoil it for, I probably would have done it just to make him realize that Christmas is not the gift version of an all-you-can-eat buffet! $100 from Sears would make the Christmas stress just a little less, though!

  18. I would probably get each of my four girls a new Christmas dress. It’s also the twins’ first Christmas so they need their own stockings!

  19. I would definitely get my 2 big kids something for Christmas. I have yet to buy anything and shopping the mall while 30+w pregnant with twins sounds like torture.

    We do have our traditions and doing those sounds better than shopping.

  20. I’d get myself something. I don’t know that though. It’s been a while since I’ve bought new clothes so I think that would be it

  21. I would spend it on clothing for my granddaughters. I love buying them gifts and they are growing so fast and can always use new clothes.

  22. I would surprise my husband with the gift card and let him buy some new tools. He keeps mentioning that he needs a few items so this would be a great treat.

  23. Experiences are way more important than gifts. I can only remember a few gifts I got as a kid and I’m sure my girls are going to be the same. They will remember all the fun we have as a family forever. thank you!

  24. If I won $100 from Sears, I would buy Christmas presents. I would start with the Nakamichi BTHP02 Bluetooth® Wireless Headphones for my husband

  25. If I won the $100 gift card I would use it for my daughter to get a new clothes for her new job. She now has to wear clothes that are a bit more professional, but since she just started funds are tight.

  26. I would allow my husband to get tools that he might need from Sears because he is redoing our basement bathroom in the next few months.

  27. We have a tradition giving the kids new warm pajamas for Christmas Eve, with some snacks and a new movie. I would use the gift card to purchase those things! Thanks so much for the chance!

  28. I would put it towards a new stove. We moved to an old farmhouse over a year ago and need a new stove for sure. It would save us $ in the long run in this ancient place. Thank you!

  29. I’m all for experiences over stuff. We have everything we need and there isn’t much we want, so this year we are heading to Florida for our family gift. With a $100 gift card, I would buy toys and donate them to a charity for kids.

  30. Since were talking Christmas specifically.. I would take a vacation. Christmas, while magical, stresses the heck out of me. It would be nice to get away especially when the weather/traffic/mall is so congested. If I got a Sears gift card I would probably do a little something extra for my mom and myself, cuz hey… us Moms don’t get near enough credit and I promised myself this year I wouldn’t neglect myself.

  31. Oh I love the making memories too!!! If I won, I think I would get some sleds and snow block makers! Some things for us to do outside this winter and make some beautiful memories! I really love the snow, and finding things to do outside would be perfect!

  32. Each year we adopt a family in need from the Angel Tree. I would use the card to buy items which are on their wishlist, especially toys for the kids.

  33. We have another member of the family coming in April, another girl. That will make girls for us, haha. We could definitely use another car seat, so this would be perfect: Safety 1st IC186CLF2 Light ‘n Comfy Infant Car Seat in Granada Rose.

  34. I think the experience and memories matter the most. We never know how limited on time we may be so the holidays should be an enjoyable experience. Gifts are a part of the fun, but there is also decorating, baking, donating old things to charities, and a lot more to it. If I won the Sears gift card I think I may give it to my mom as a gift. My mom wants a stand up freezer in the garage. She has an old chest freezer that is nearly 10 years old. There are some issues with the seal and the chest freezer is just difficult to deal with because things get buried in the bottom. A stand up freezer would be ideal to make it easier to organize and grab what she needs without having to dig to the bottom. Thanks for this chance to win and have a wonderful week.

  35. If I won $100 to Sears i think I would put it toward some new cookware for the kitchen. I love cooking and baking with my kids and we would make some great memories!

  36. We always tried for a balance of both gifts and experiences. My husband was military so we often had holidays without him. It was before the days of videos and instant messaging so we looked forward to a phone call to brighten the day.

  37. I would put the $100 towards a new washer. The one I have is only about five years old, but just in the last week has torn up and ruined three shirts and two pair of pants.

  38. I would use the $100 for new sheets and comforters for my 4 kids.They need new bedding and that is one expense that gets overlooked.

  39. Have fun on your family vacation. Memories are so much more valuable than stuff. I would definitely spend the $100 on Christmas gifts for my son and husband. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  40. Now that my children and grandkids are older we don’t do Christmas gifts but this year I have 2 wonderful great grand children and I will be buying them presents and also for my 4 youngest grand kids

  41. I would buy my Dad a gps from Sears. He’s been wanting one for a while now, and I’d love to be able to gift it to him this Christmas.

  42. From my point of view I would like to grab both opportunities. Visiting a place where we’ve never been before and also purchase that gift that’s very new to us and never used before. To do that I’ll work hard to income thousand more dollars to live in the fullest of life.

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