How to Plan a Christmas of Experiences


What’s a Christmas of Experiences? See my previous post Christmas of Experiences :: We Aren’t Giving Our Son “Things” This YearOur family is planning to have our second Christmas of Experiences this year, and you can too!

Don’t let Christmas be traumatic!

What are the benefits of a Christmas of Experiences?

Memories. I can’t express enough how wonderful it is to be able to make memories with my husband, son, and mom. We have had so many wonderful experiences as a family already. I can’t imagine not giving the gift of experiences to them. Long after we are gone, my son will remember playing Dogopoly in the condo and ordering takeout with his Idgie (my mom) while his Mama and Daddy went to a Taylor Swift concert. He will forever remember being a “parade kid” and catching coconuts and playing with his parade route friends in the neutral ground while waiting for another parade to roll.

Anticipation. Nothing is better than planning and anticipating weekends away or big events. We make paper chains, spend days planning what we are going to pack, and make a big hype about the event. Let the excitement build.

Less stuff, more fun. Kids have all kinds of stuff these days. iPads, thousands of legos, toys that they are finished playing with by February. We are trying to have less clutter and spend more time together and have more fun, so this is ideal for our family.

How do I do it?

Investigate. Look at local events and calendars. If you are interested in concerts or festivals, check your schedule and plan to attend. Book your hotel rooms, take time off work, and buy your tickets. It’s that easy! It can be as extravagant as a trip with a flight, a cruise, or a long road trip, or it can be as simple as a day trip to a local waterpark or a family outing to a campground. Find out what fits your family and your budget and work around that.

Waiting for a Parade 2018

Plan. Make a list of a few things that you want to do and try to spread them out over the year. This will allow for an entire year of fun and more anticipation throughout the year.

Wrap. Here’s the fun part: you can make a huge reveal and build up as much hype as you want depending on how you present it. If it’s coveted concert tickets, perhaps you could do a scavenger hunt to find them on Christmas morning. If it’s a trip, you can always give items useful for the trip, such as new luggage or a nice coat for a trip to New York, or beach toys and stocking stuffers of sunscreen and goggles for a beach or cruise type excursion.

Tips. Make a list of things that you may need or want for your experiences. Perhaps a new camera would be a great family present. Kids need new heavy coats? (because let’s face it… it’s not needed here in south Mississippi) Wrap them up as part of the experience. Taking a road trip? Stuff the stocking with gift cards for fast food and travel games so the kids can feel like they have something awesome to look forward to should they get bored.

Our Christmas of Experiences 2018

We have pretty much completed our list of experiences for Christmas 2018. Although who knows what may pop up over the next few months. So far, we plan to attend 2 concerts (including Justin Timberlake), 2 festivals, and take a short flight and stay at Lego Land, along with our usual Thanksgiving, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans.

Thanksgiving at Redfish Grill 2017

Some of our Christmas presents will include new luggage for air travel, swim trunks, a new parade wagon, and a few other accessories for both Quinn and the entire family, which will be great for all of our experiences. We haven’t quite figured out how we are going to reveal this year’s experiences, especially the Justin Timberlake concert tickets, so STAY TUNED!

Tell me more

Are you planning a Christmas of Experiences? I would love to hear about it!

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Lauren Rhodes Braden is a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where she resides with her husband, Eric and her son, Quinn. She has perfected the art of balancing better than most trained circus acts. She is a mother of one, and recently completed her J.D. at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is co-owner of Braden Valladares, LLC, a mediation and arbitration firm. An alum of Ocean Springs High School (2001), Ole Miss (B.S. in Criminal Justice 2006), Delta State University (M.S. in Criminal Justice 2008), and Mitchell Hamline School of Law (J.D. 2018), Lauren plans to take the Mississippi bar exam as well as the Louisiana Bar Exam to move Braden Valladares, LLC into an all-inclusive legal services practice in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, specializing in areas of litigation such as family law, juvenile law, elder law, adoptions, guardianships, conservatorships, and dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration. She is one of the first incoming classes of the new hybrid J.D. program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, allowing her to meet her Docket Divas and future law partners, and blog about their journey through raising families, attending law school, continuing to work full-time, and still maintaining shreds of sanity. Lauren has written for all court levels in Mississippi, the U.S. Federal District Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and most recently the United States Supreme Court. As a non-traditional mom, Lauren brings a fresh perspective of being a career focused mom, encouraging moms to go back to school or focus on their careers while still being an attentive, fun, and loving mom. Additionally, Lauren was raised in a multi-generational home and has chosen the same path, as her mom plays a very important role in their small nuclear family, making sure that Quinn makes it to hip hop class on time and ensuring that there is a hot meal on the table- cooking was never Lauren’s strong suit (along with cleaning… laundry…. outdoor projects….etc.) When not having dance parties around the house or attending concerts, Lauren and the family can be found in their second home, New Orleans. They enjoy shopping the local markets and stores, attending festivals, eating all of the amazing food the city has to offer, and parading like fools! Her philosophy as a mom is to live and enjoy the moments- both big and small, and to not take life or parenting too seriously. She has been known to blast Taylor Swift and sing to the top of her lungs as a solution to having to listen to a whiny kid, and rescue a giant hundred-pound dog on a random Monday after a tough day at work. It’s a good thing she is a juggler, because at the Braden house, it’s always a circus!