The Experience Jar

Masilo Founder and mama of an almost two-year old, Eisha Maskara Sheth, shares a meaningful gift idea for little ones that will be treasured for months and even years to come...

Last holiday season was our toddler, Krishav’s first Christmas. We were so excited to celebrate with him that we got a life-sized tree and invited the whole family over for lunch. We had already received so many presents from the family on his arrival, on every milestone and every time a family member travelled abroad, they came back with more presents for our lucky little guy.

As new parents though, we want our child to grow up valuing people and experiences more than just things. So instead of having the family get our then 10-month-old more stuff for Christmas, we decided to take a break from presents and did something different. My husband and I wrote down things (which wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes) that we thought family members could do with Krishav instead, and placed the notes inside a mason jar.

The mason jar was passed around and everybody picked out a note, with an ‘experience gift’ for Krishav. From changing a poopy diaper to scrambling to find ways to make him laugh and even getting soaked while giving him a bath, it was brilliant for mama and papa to sit back and watch Krishav’s aunt, uncles and grandparents do things they had never done before with Krishav! Everybody (Krishav included) had one big laugh – and it was unanimously decided that the ‘experience jar’ must become an annual holiday tradition!

We are so fortunate to live in a world of abundance, where most of us have just too many things for our little ones. So it’s only natural that our kids may not always fully appreciate gifts of more stuff. This is why after a few of weeks, most gifts end up in a closet or somewhere else out of sight, forgotten.

Unlike things, ‘experience gifts’ that build memories are perfect for little ones who have everything (and parents who don’t want to accumulate more than what they need).

Experiences are treasured for months and even years to come. As Krishav grows up, he'll choose what ‘experience gifts’ he would like from us and the extended family (whether it's to bake his favourite dessert together or plan a date night) – but until then, mama and papa get to decide! This year’s jar is filled with experiences like this for our 22 month old…

Draw a turtle (or ten!) for me
Let’s go on a caterpillar hunt in the garden together
Take me for a swim
Build a castle with me
Join me for a tea party
Teach me a new song
Get in the “big bath” with me
Let’s play hide and seek
Carry me piggyback all the way to the car!

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