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Statewide Culture 3

Give an Arkansas Experience for Christmas


Is anyone else over stuff? Of course, giving and receiving gifts is a special part of the traditions throughout the Christmas holiday, but it always seems that on Dec. 26, we spend much of the day finding a place to put all the things we’ve collected over the month.

What if we considered “experiences” to fulfill those Christmas wish lists this year?

  • CBS News Reported last year that 73% of people said spending time with family and friends was their favorite part of the holidays. Receiving gifts was at 4%.
  • Mintel’s winter shopping report offered that 66% of respondents 25-34 said experiential gifts were more meaningful than tangible items.
  • Susan Newman, the author of Little Things Long Remembered, notes that overloading children with gifts is developmentally harmful.
  • Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holidays, leading to 1 million tons weekly.

“The experience of getting a new toy or digital device is fleeting. You can get bored with things, but experiences and memories are embedded in your brain.” – Susan Newman, child psychologist

So, what does it look like to make the change? Get creative with how you present your gift – offer a coupon to cash in, write a meaningful note, or host a family FaceTime if you can’t be together.

1. Gift of Time

Why not start this year with a gift of time for those in your closest circle of influence? Whether it’s your spouse, children or best friends, offer a coupon for a “Yes” day together at the beginning of the new year. Doing this gives you time to be present during the holidays and reserve sacred one-on-one time with your loved one later, doing the things they love most.

2. Family Togetherness

Something that our family can use together throughout the year is at the top of my list. Whether it’s a local trampoline park, children’s museum or aquatic park, something you can use over and over is a fun way to extend the celebration. And, when you are at the splash pad this summer, send a thank you video to the giver, letting them know how much you are still enjoying your gift.

3. Sacred Getaway

Save time after the holidays to get away together. Check items off your Arkansas bucket list. Stay in a unique location and explore the area. Print off a fun coupon or craft one with seasonal materials and wrap it under the tree.

4. Go Wild

Maybe your people need some wild time and exploring Arkansas animals this year. Many of these locations offer annual memberships or behind-the-scenes, hands-on animal experiences.

6. Ride On

It is no longer a secret. Arkansas is a world destination for off-road mountain biking. Take advantage of the multi-level skill courses and the biking community infrastructure with unique restaurants, service structures, and coffee shops ready along many routes.

5. Inner Critique

Cashing in on monthly theater tickets is one of my favorite gifts from Mother’s Day. Yes, it can be expensive, but it’s like 12 already, pre-planned dates!

7. Be Creative

No one knows your gift recipient better than you. Maybe they don’t fit any of these categories, or they are the most complicated people to shop for. Here are some creative takes on Arkansas amenities that might just be what they need.

8. Get Outside

Plan a day exploring the Natural State together.

Meet the

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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3 responses to “Give an Arkansas Experience for Christmas”

  1. Holli Boyett Holli says:

    I LOVE this! What a great collection of ideas to support local and give the gift of experience.

  2. Keisha Pittman McKinney Keisha@bigpittstop says:

    so many cool ways to experience Arkansas instead of more stuff in a closet or on a shelf collecting dust. I’m ready to make a new 2023 list and explore more places!

  3. […] giving an Arkansas Experience as an alternative to more “things” is on your Christmas shopping list, then you will […]

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