Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gifting With Memories

I love everything about Christmas except one thing - the struggle to find appropriate gifts for Ashley. One of her favorite things in the world are Lego blocks. So, there's that. In the past, I struggled with buying her non-age-appropriate, but developmentally appropriate toys, but I moved past that. Unfortunately, so has Ashley. Even the loud, obnoxious light-up toys don't hold her attention very long. The girl has more than enough clothes, and shoes, oh vey, the shoes...She has 15 pairs of Converse hi-tops in every color and pattern under the rainbow. So, I knew I had to come up with something new and exciting this year.
As I thought about what things make Ashley the happiest, I realized that it's new experiences. She loves trying new things, going new places, meeting new people. I just need to remember that when I am in search of gifts, and realize that the best gift for her is based on experiences not things.

If you are in the same boat as I, here is a list of experience gifts I have come up with. Some are free, some are inexpensive, and some are not. I would love to have you add to the list!

  • Rent a convertible and tour the countryside. Ashley loves the wind on her face and the sun on her shoulders. I looked into the cost of this and in my area, I can rent a lovely convertible for about $175 a day.
  • Stay a night in a cabin in a state park. Most are very cheap, especially in the winter. Look for one with a huge fireplace, then sit in front of it all day and read books, snack, and nap. Sounds like heaven to me and should cost in the neighborhood of $75.
  • Go to a museaum or aquarium that you've never been to before. The best ones would have some interactive displays. A zoo is also a good idea, even in the winter. You just have to bundle up a bit, and several of the zoos and museums not far from us offer free admission to anyone using a wheelchair as well as for a companion. Average cost - $20.
  • Go to a movie, or multiple movies, at a Regal theatre. They also offer free admission for a companion to a person with a disability. Sneak in some treats in your purse if you dare! Cost of an average movie ticket during matinee times - $7.
  • Go bowling. Sign up for emails from bowling alleys and you will receive some great coupons that make the bowling trip not so expensive. We usually don't spend more than $30 for four of us to bowl for as long as we want.
  • If your loved one likes plants and flowers, visit an arboretum. If you can get to Washington, DC, the National Arboretum is spectacular. The scents, the colors, the glory of all things growing is just almost overwhelming. And the cost is the best thing - FREE.
  • And while you are in DC, visit the Smithsonian. Again, all museums are FREE.
  • Take a train ride. If you live near an Amtrak station, take a short round trip ride between two cities. Amtrak is very accommodating of people with disabilities, and fare is still reasonable. Average cost for 4 people = less than $100 for a short trip.
  • Find a cupcakery in your area that offers cupcake making classes. Even if they don't offer classes, a little sweet talk will probably get the owner to arrange a visit and a decorating session. Best thing - cupcakes are usually free or very low cost.
  • Tour your state capitol and your Governor's mansion. This time of year especially when things are decorated for the holidays. You might even run into the Governor or his family! Cost - FREE!
  • Take a ferry ride. There are so few ferries left and going for a ride on one will be a memorable experience. You might even get to feed some seagulls (remember to take crackers). In most places ferry rides are free or very, very low cost.
  • Get all dressed up and go to a really fancy restaurant, but just for dessert. So what if you child or family member is not used to such fancy places and may not follow all the 'rules'. You probably won't go back because a full meal there is ridiculously expensive. Probably cost - $40 for a family of 4.

So that's the start of my list. Just remember that experience gifts are often more appreciated for our family members with disabilities - for anyone, for that matter - because it means you are spending time together and building memories!

What would you like to add to the list?

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