Featured Image This year, I’m switching up my holiday gift buying game plan. For my many nieces and nephews and my own children I’m focusing on experiences rather than material items. My family loves to shower my kids with presents but we already have two toy boxes filled to the brim. I want to make memories with my children and spend time doing fun, new and exciting things. So this year I’m making a list of experiences rather than things. Tickets to a movie – Though I try my best to keep my daughter’s screen-time to a minimum there is almost nothing she likes more than watching a good any movie. She would eat up every moment at a movie date with a loved one. Theme park tickets – Last year, my parents gave us season passes to King’s Dominion. We went once in the spring once in the summer and can’t wait to head there this winter for their new WinterFest. After two trips the passes paid for themselves. We’ve enjoyed our mini vacations this year and appreciate spending time as a family without the worry of fitting it in our budget. Zoo passes –We’ve received zoo passes as a gift from friends the past two years and we have used them so much. Sometimes, when you spend a lot of money in one day on an experience it feels like added pressure to make sure you fit everything in and you want to make sure everyone is having a great time. Heading to the zoo for an hour or just going half-way through to see a certain animal sure beats a long drawn out day trying to fit train rides, animal feedings and a look at every creature that inhabits that place. We go so often and each time we do something different. If I were paying for each visit I don’t think our zoo trips would be the same and surely wouldn’t happen as often. Museum passes – My children love visiting the Children’s Museum of Richmond or any museum for that matter. I enjoy watching my children experience new things and learn through play. We use our year passes so much I’ve calculated that it costs about $3 for each trip as a family (as long as I can keep them away from the gift shop strategically placed at the entrance/exit). Trampoline park – My daughter is an energizer bunny. It’s very hard to tire her out but after we go to a trampoline park she’s ready for a good long nap. The bouncing off the walls (literally) is a gift to her, the afternoon nap is a gift to me. A double win, here! A family trip – This year instead of buying a ridiculous amount of toys for our kids we’re going on a family trip to the National Aquarium. The doll or truck at the bottom of the toy box they’ll forget about in a week but I hope that they’ll cherish the memories of taking family trips to new places for a lifetime. So, if you’re getting a gift from us this year expect it to be something to do rather than something to own. My kids have enjoyed getting experiences as gifts from family and friends. I like to take pictures to send to them and make sure we call that friend or family member before and after the experience to share with them all the fun things we did and thank them for the special time or better yet, invite them to go on the experience with us! Audra F. Hi, I’m Audra! I’m a marketing specialist here at VACU. I joined VACU right out of college at VCU 5 years ago. In that time, I got engaged, married my college sweetheart and had two babies; a girl and a boy. I’ve learned a lot about finances working at the credit union, but even more from navigating these life changes. So I’m excited to share my personal financial journey with you and what I’m learning along the way. Other stories by Audra F.