The holidays are jam-packed with fun, joy, and quality time with loved ones. However, once the presents are opened, the dinner is eaten, and the grueling clean up begins, the anticipation is over and it’s back to normal life. There’s always next year to enjoy time with family, and until then there’s just trashing wrapping paper and washing a mountain of dishes. One grandma decided to continue the joy and fun of the holidays throughout the year by gifting her grandchildren with a Christmas Adventure Box.
The Adventure Box doesn’t include any toys, electronics, or anything breakable that children would lose interest in over time. In her words, she gave them “the gift of time.”
What’s Inside Grandma’s Christmas Adventure Box?
Darlene Howell Waller from Tennessee wanted to give her grandchildren a taste of the holiday cheer, excitement, and family time all year long. She prepared a box filled with 12 brown paper envelopes — each one decorated and labeled for each month. Included inside is everything the family would need to enjoy a certain activity hinted at through the decor of the envelope.
One month is designated for bowling and laser tag, and the envelope is equipped with tokens for the arcade area. Another month contains movie tickets, another has tickets for a baseball game, another has information for a horseback riding trail, and another has pocket money for a day trip to Disneyland.
Although the kids are given the box on Christmas, they don’t open any of the envelopes until the first day of each month. This gives them something to look forward to throughout the year. When the new month arrives, they open the box to discover the next fun family adventure.
On Christmas, the grandkids were able to open one thing: a letter from their Nonna. It read:
“This year, my sweet boys, I give you the gift of time. In this gift, you will find 12 envelopes, one for each month of the year. Inside each envelope is a pre-planned, pre-paid (mostly) date for you and I, or you with Rich and Mommy. Some you choose, some I choose. But they are all fun as a family activity for us to do together.
“At the beginning of each month, open an envelope and let’s plan the date. On some of them, we may even take Uncle Timothy and Aunt Savannah.”
“I love you and can’t wait to spend time with you. Love, Nonna.”
After all, the best gift one could ever receive is the gift of spending time with loved ones.
Darlene shared her Adventure Box idea on Facebook, including pictures of the envelope and a clip of the boys reading her letter, and her post went viral with over 263 thousand shares.
“If we looked back on our years, we don’t remember the gifts that were given or WHO gave them,” she said. “But for me, time spent together are some of my sweetest childhood memories. I remember the family vacations, the Saturday trips to the grocery store, the lake and camping adventures with my family, the fun we had in the treehouse that my dad built for me. But I couldn’t tell you a single gift that was a ‘thing’ that I remember receiving.” 
How to Make Your Own Adventure Box
Darlene’s Adventure Box included the following activities:
- Movie tickets for January
- Bowling, laser tag, and go-carting, plus tokens for games for February
- Gift certificate for horseback riding for March
- Baseball game tickets for April
- Disney gift cards for May (it was a pre-planned trip)
- Others such as trips to Donnell Century Farm Adventure, Pringles Park, Redneck Island, Christmas In the Park at Pickwick Landing State Park, and a Sky Zone gift card with sky socks.
If you’d like to create your own Adventure Box whether as a holiday or birthday gift, here are some pointers.
When you decide on the trips, keep in mind the time of year and the season. You won’t be able to find hockey tickets in July, neither would a summer carnival be open during February. Look up interesting festivals and events that happen in your area, like Winter Wonderlands, lantern festivals, concerts, plays, parades, and other activities. Ensure you plan them for the right time.
Also, check out your area for fun activities that are best enjoyed in different kinds of weather. Escapes Rooms are a great idea for rainy seasons, while an outdoor sightseeing tour would be more enjoyable for sunny days. Keep this in mind while planning ice skating, water parks, apple picking, biking trails, and museum visits.
Another good way to pick trips for each month is to examine the children’s interests and get on board. Perhaps their favorite musical is on tour and is coming to your town that September or the sequel to their favorite movie is coming to theaters in a few months. History museums may not be their cup of tea, but reptile museums and aquarium definitely are. It could be hard to please multiple kids with varying interests, but there are many activities they can all get excited about, especially those that offer some flexibility, like arcades and amusement parks with different kinds of entertainment.
The trips don’t need to cost much money either. Camping in the backyard with a firepit and s’mores, turning the living room into a home theater and having a movie marathon and scavenger hunts are cheap, but with a little planning, a total blast.
The Work is Already Done
The best part of the Adventure Box is that you’ve done all the work beforehand. There’s no “it’s the long weekend, so let’s do something,” which leads to hours of bickering until the day is over. These trips are planned, exciting, and brings the family together once a month for something special.
A great addition to the Adventure Box is a photo album to capture these moments. By next Christmas, the family can reminisce about the fun they had the past year while the kids open a new Adventure Box. All of this, of course, will be more possible once we see the other side of the pandemic. Se we can put out thinking caps on now, and look to the future.