It’s All About the Experience

This holiday season, consider giving non-material gifts that reflect your family's values and interests.

How much of what we do surrounding holidays is about creating experience? Think about it. Families become positively tribal. We snuggle into our familiar annual traditions like a thick, comfy sweater. Are you the tribe that always cuts a fresh Christmas tree or reads the same picture book? Or the one that makes the same frosted cookies every year? Or attends the same religious service or holiday performance?

We cling close to our experiences, pass them on to our children and spread them out to our friends and new family members. How many times in the office or with groups of friends have you said, “Here’s what my family does? What do you do?” We share experiences to get to know one another.

The details don’t matter as much as the experience. It’s the shared activity that evokes the feelings of closeness and belonging. Beyond our individual identity, we belong to something bigger.

What if we took that warm, tribal embrace and intentionally recreated it throughout the year? Why not think about giving the gift of experience to your family this year? The gifts can be as personal as your own family’s identity, reflecting what you love, what you value and what you hope to learn or become.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Animal-related Memberships.

If you value animals and conservation, why not get a family membership to the Tulsa Zoo or the Oklahoma Aquarium? Give children books, magazine subscriptions or stuffed animals that might start a conversation about their favorite animals or aquatic life.

2. Museum and Art-related Memberships.

Philbrook and Gilcrease have amazing programs, many of which are planned for families to do together. Other places to get creative are the Woody Guthrie Museum and AHHA in the Tulsa Arts District. And, we can’t leave out the Tulsa Children’s Museum at Owen Park.

3. Classes and Activities

Activities such as soccer (check out Soccer City), swimming (Miller Swim is a great place to learn water safety, even in the cold months), dance and gymnastics (go to our extra-curricular guide at for lots of ideas), theater and music (if you give a musical instrument, don’t forget to include some lessons. Saied Music has lots of lessons, even for adults. You and your child could learn together!), art, YMCA or YWCA memberships offer a variety of opportunities for fitness for everyone in the family, bowling gift certificates, or buy a pair of skates and give gift certificates to a place like Wheels and Thrills in Owasso, which has skating and indoor games. Whatever you and your child enjoy doing, you can find a place to experience it.

4. Camps.

It’s not too early to think about summer experiences. Has your daughter always wanted to learn to ride a horse? Put something horse-related under the tree, but make the gift a week at a riding camp or a series of riding lessons. Do your kids love variety camps? Kanakuk has experiences for all ages. Give the gift of a variety of overnight camp-related items such as a cool water bottle and a special blanket along with a week or two at a fun summer camp. There are sports, art, music, theater, dance — camps for every interest. (Check out the TulsaKids Summer Camp guide here.)

Think about what’s important to your family tribe and give an experience gift this year. It will be the one they remember.

Categories: Editor’s Blog