We have often believed that experiences were more important than things. In light of the holidays and people having gifting on the brain I am sharing some of our favorite things and offering some examples on how we have gifted adventures.
Active/Outdoors: We have found that if we are comfortable being outdoors we are more apt to stay longer and enjoy it. Through the years we have leaned on some of our favorite things and brands.
- Cold weather gear: Gloves, boots, fun hats. While we often hit sales at the Columbia Outlet, I also have good luck grabbing these as essential items from Costco. We’ve had really good luck with the $12 kids winter gloves, and the base layers (which double as PJs for my kids because they are silky and cozy).
- Used Sporting Equipment: Because we do so much adventuring throughout the seasons and the kids grow so fast we rarely buy new equipment. Some of the items we have gifted to the kids are Downhill ski boots and skis, snowshoes, ice skates. These can all be found relatively inexpensive at a place like Play it again sports. Last year my son wanted to up his mountain bike game and so we worked with a local bike shop to outfit a used bike that would work well for him for the next 5 years.
- Bikes: In general are a good active gift. If your kids are young (under 5) I highly recommend a strider or balance bike, or a family gift of a bike trailer. We used a Double Burley bike trailer for well over 10 years. It’s also helpful for other things if you are someone who likes to bike. I know people who use it to get groceries, to haul water back to their campsite or garbage away from the campsite. It may have also been alternative transportation when a car needed fixing.
- Roller blades are also a school-aged gift that was highly sought after.
- Things to help enjoy time outdoors. Last year my daughter received the big swing, it looks like a flying saucer, not sure exactly what it’s called. That swing has seen more attention this year than most other items in our house. I even enjoy laying on it. It does require a stable tree branch or a beam to hang it from. If you are looking for something for the young adults, a hammock is ideal. Ours is nylon and packs up into a small sack and we bought the adjustable bands and carabiners so we had the ability to take it with us many different places.
- Hiking Shoes: last year we were introduced to Saloman Speedcross hiking shoes and I am telling you the entire family is now addicted to those and Darn tough socks.
- Camping Gear: Sleeping bags- we had really good luck with the kids sleeping bags from Cabela’s (this isn’t the exact one, but very similar) which were inexpensive, but much warmer than the princess and superhero style at most box stores. We upgraded our older kids to adult sleeping bags – it’s important to look for the temperature rating and be mindful of any texture issues your family members might have. My kids all like the silky texture and no one likes their feet constraint with the mummy style bags. Or other fun things like water jugs, percolators for coffee, cute storage bins for the camper, a new air mattress- practical things that will help adventure be more fun.
Many of our gifts have previously revolved around a family travel experience so we have slowly built their gear to accompany and make travel more manageable and delightful.
- Each kid got their own carryon bag (Owl and Monkey bags) wheelie bag and the coordinating travel pillow. We invested in an Osprey Duffle that converts to a backpack- it’s not small enough to be a checked bag, but in our world of having so much gear, the ability to quickly throw it on your back is great. (We actually bought while out west on an Amtrak trip. The Mother Lode travel backpack is on my wish list this year.
- Other travel essentials: Packing cubes, toiletry bags, Kanteens (Klean Kantean once through security we fill our water bottles), Bentigos were really helpful for our road trips- each kid packed their own lunch (coincidently they also are really helpful for homeschooling- having 3 kids with different lunch schedules they all make their own lunches each day now.
- Tools to help them document adventures: Camera, journals, Etsy Poster for all the MLB Stadiums
- Some bigger gifts for adults were our Thule bike rack (attaches to the hitch and swings out so you can open the back hatch) and our Yakima car top carrier.
Location specific accessories or gifts that are inspired by a location
- Last year we gifted the family a trip to Hawaii (which will now be in 2021) so everyone got snorkel gear
- When we went to Disney I designed t-shirts for each of the kids, and also bought some helpful things like cooling towels
- For our stay at the Dude Ranch my daughter got cowboy boots
- We’ve also done things like personalized beach towels, or a cool beach gadget.
- A book or movie to learn more about or where the movie was filmed (Older son- Major league for our MLB trip to Cleveland, Forest Gump for Savannah, and Jurassic Park last spring for our trip to Redwood National Park and our hike in Fern Canyon).
- Things to remember a place by: Ghirardelli chocolate for our San Francisco trip, Jelly Belly’s for our weekend getaway to Racine
Apps or subscriptions
- OnX: My brother introduced this to us to give us downloadable maps that provide GPS coordinates. He uses it for hunting, we used it for camping and hiking out west. It’s great for when you don’t have a cell phone signal. The free trial you can download one map, and with the subscription we were able to download several- not sure if there is a limit.
- All trails: again a free version to simply find trails to hike, great for planning our adventure trips and finding places to hike. The subscription allows you to download the maps so again don’t need cell signal to find the trails. I only use the free version. They have the ability to record your hikes and share with others so they know where you are. We already had OnX so will consider what we will do next.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: Gearing up for airline travel, this is a subscription service (I highly recommend) that got us $200 flights to Alaska from Green Bay. You can set your airports that you want to watch for deals from and destinations that are on your list and they email you any deals that pop up. I have found great value from this and will be continuing.
- State or National Park passes- reminder for National Parks 4th graders, and veterans get in free.
- If you are interested in RV camping: Harvest Hosts or Boondockers welcome are memberships we’ve explored. I haven’t used them yet, but it’s on our list for when we are RV traveling more frequently. I am in several groups and have heard really good things. Also if this is of interest, something like mobile hotspots or flexible wi-fi. We have looked at skyroam a few times. Again, we aren’t there yet but if you are traveling a lot it might be worth exploring. If you travel internationally, SIM cards for those locations are needed items. Also things like portable battery packs are helpful.
- Kids subscriptions to magazines or activities: Nat Geo Kids magazines or Kiwi boxes
I will close with one of our favorite indoor activities is my son’s current set of Laser Tag set. If you are someone who needs to switch it up, my nearly 70 yo dad sits in his chair and plays with my 5 YO and it’s been a good family activity to play. A set of 2 were about $30. We have 2 sets and have a ton of fun playing with those this winter. And don’t forget you can also get something like the Adventure Challenge book, with scratch off adventures for friends, couples, or families (Use Code ORDINARYSHERPA for 10% off). And for 2 more weeks we still have the giveaway happening. For anyone who leaves a written review will be entered in a drawing to receive a Advent(ure) Calendar to offer scratch off adventures for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.
Given 2020 is the year for making new traditions, you might want to consider how to add adventure into how you open gifts this year. Maybe a new tradition of having them complete a scavenger hunt to find their gifts, or wrapping their first gift as a clue to where they can find their second gift. Another tradition we enjoy is that that last gift opened is a family gift and the person who opens it is the person who finds the pickle ornament on the tree. (Note: don’t do this if you are worried about your tree getting slightly undecorated in the process)
While we are not here to reinforce consumerism, and acknowledge that many adventures can be done by simply putting down your phone. We also wanted to inspire you to explore how you might make adventure have a more prevalent role in your family story in 2021 and beyond, and if one of these items would help you than I have accomplished my goal today.
This week we have 2 winners of the Advent(ure) Calendars. Thank you to everyone who left a written review. I love reading them and appreciate the time you took to share them with me.
1. Investor Mama writes: Loving this podcast! Can’t wait to learn more from Heidi. W are trying to instill more adventure in our family and I know Heidi is an expert in this area. Can’t wait for more episodes!
2. Goatrider22 writes: Excellent first podcast! I love the word hazardous in the definition of adventure. Looking forward to connecting with a community of Sherpas!
If you would like to be entered to win a scratch off advent(ure) calendar, leave a written review on the podcast platform you are listening on. Take a screenshot and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org Each week we will pick 1 winner for every 5 written reviews.
Thank you for joining us on this journey.