The Christmas Conundrum

With Christmas fast approaching and two children, we have to decide exactly what sort of holiday this is going to be. Our feeling is the children probably have enough “stuff” but obviously they still want to open things on Christmas Day. Luckily our daughter at 15 is old enough that she would prefer gift cards that she can spend at the mall, however our 10-year-old is still at the “cheap plastic crap” phase.

We made a decision a few months ago, that rather than buying more stuff we would have family “experiences” the feeling being that the children would remember this much more than a new toy. So we have been coming up with a list of items we could do as a family over the holiday.

So far we have

  • A trip to an escape room.
  • A visit to the coast to look for whales.
  • A nice family meal out at a fancy restaurant
  • “Winter Wonderland” of Christmas lights at the local motor speedway.
  • Oregon Zoo Lights
  • A proper trip to the movies to see Star Wars (including popcorn, which we never do).
  • A holiday show at the theater.
  • River cruise on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers
  • Volunteering as a family and donating toys instead of receiving.
  • Snowtubing at one of the winter resorts.

Obviously we can’t do all of these as each of them costs money (apart from volunteering). So as a good FIRE family we will need to come up with a budget and discuss. We will probably have to come up with expensive and cheaper options and tell the kids we can pick several cheaper options or just one or two more expensive.

We did consider going away for the week before Christmas as the schools break up for winter on December 15th and driving down the California Coast, maybe having a day at Disneyland and then catching a show in Las Vegas. However by the time we had planned that all out it would cost upwards of $2000 even if we didn’t fly and only drove.

A day ticket to Disneyland is $124 per person! So there is $500 right there just for a day. We just can’t justify that. A good Vegas show would set us back $75 a person (and Vegas shows can’t go over 90 minutes as any longer and they start to impact Casino revenue!).

So in the end we will stay here, but definitely find things to do. For that $500 a day trip to Disneyland would cost we could have 5 good fun local days out.

There will still be presents to unwrap but they will be a few small practical items and a few joke gifts.

What are your holiday plans?


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I always prefer experiences over stuff. Looks like a great list to do with your family over Christmas holidays.