Three years ago, as we were taking town our tree after the holiday, I asked my kids what their favorite Christmas present had been that year. “I don’t know. I don’t really remember what I got,” they both, in essence, said. In today’s society where everything seems to be handed to children on a silver platter (My visiting mother who is over my shoulder is reminding me that I was spoiled in the 80’s as well.), it is easy to blur every day presents with special, holiday gifts.

Here is a compilation of some meaningful—and hopefully memorable—gifts for this holiday season.

roller coaster

1. Season Passes

Buying a season pass, particularly if you plan on going more than once during the year, is economical and gives kids something to look forward to as the year progresses. To add to the lackluster presentation of the envelope, try adding theme-related items like sunglasses, sunscreen and visors for a more interesting gift to open.

Suggestions: Busch Gardens/Water Country USA (Look into their FREE preschool season pass as well!), Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond (Includes free dome movie passes), Children’s Museum of Richmond (Includes all four locations).

2. Tickets to a Concert, Play, or Ballet

Each Christmas I started giving my parents tickets to a show. One year they saw Straight No Chaser and last year they saw the Cleveland Orchestra. My parents appreciate this because they said they would not have thought to see these performances on their own accord, so they were grateful that my kids and I chose something unique for them to attend. To add to the experience, give them (or have another family member gift them) a gift card for a nearby restaurant.

Suggestions: Riverside Dinner Theater, Kennedy Center, Jiffy Lube Live Pavilion, Celebrate Virginia Live, the 9:30 Club.

3. Monthly Lessons

Soccer, piano, violin, gymnastics, lacrosse, engineering programs, art, drama…all of these after-school lessons add up on the monthly expenses. Why not suggest to Aunt Mildred that instead of sending dreaded argyle sweaters to an Under Armour-wearing 10-year-old, she gift them an after-school activity? Throughout the season, you can snap a few photos of the performer in action to send to the gift-giver.

Tinker Crate

4. Monthly Gift Subscription

Last year I gave my best friend a monthly subscription to Birchbox. Each month she receives several beauty samples based on the profile she created. She says it’s so fun opening the box each month in anticipation of what might be inside.

Suggestions: Birchbox (has products for men and women), Barkbox (for the spoiled dog), Dollar Shave Club, Graze (several healthy snacks), The Cravory (several non-healthy cookies); Tinker Crate (hands-on, STEM activities for kids).

5. An Experience

One of the most fun gifts I gave my husband was a couples cooking class. We made fancy dishes that we would never prepare at home, but enjoyed making a complete and total mess in someone else’s kitchen and not our own.

Suggestions: Champion Chefs cooking classes, River Rock Outfitters (SUP, kayak, climbing and fly fishing classes), Vint Hill Craft Winery (craft your own wine at their Vinter program).


Kerry Pinto is a freelance writer who would love tickets to Bon Jovi for a holiday present.