FREE Santa Bucks: Give Experiences Instead of Gifts

Scroll down and click on the link to download the free printable blank certificate templates

Christmas certificates for kids

In these days of minimalism (check out if you want to know exactly what I mean), you might be looking for ways to give your children experiences instead of gifts. Or maybe you're just weary of having toys ignored shortly after they're received. Or maybe you just want to give your family a richer experience of the holidays. Whatever your perspective, these printable Santa Bucks will give you stocking stuffers that have real meaning--meaning that you choose yourself or together with your child.

Of course, you could just give your children experiences without Santa Bucks. But there's something so fun about having these useful stocking fillers peeking out of stockings on Christmas morning. And for young kids, these festive blank gift certificates will look like they came directly from Santa.
Once received, you can explain that Santa wanted to give them a special present that he knew would really be appreciated. And that part is then up to you. You decide what the gift should be. See the Suggested Alternative Christmas Gifts section below for a list of non-toy gifts for kids, although the gift could also be a much-coveted toy if that's what you decide is best. And make sure to also see the Tips section for some helpful suggestions on using these printable stocking stuffers.

Download the Template

The file linked above in pink is in PDF format, so you'll need PDF reader software to read it. If you don't have a program, you can download free Adobe Acrobat software. I recommend that you deselect the McAfee offer (uncheck the box), as that download can sometimes cause problems. Acrobat itself is fine to download though.

fun Christmas traditions

Suggested Alternative Christmas Gifts

Santa Bucks can help you start new and fun Christmas traditions for your family. The list below offers a variety of suggestions for different types of presents kids can exchange for their Santa Bucks stocking stuffers. But you can certainly come up with your own based on what you know your children would like. Make sure to see the Tips section below the list for some helpful suggestions on how to use these Christmas certificates.

  • Commit to deposit a certain amount of money every month--it doesn't have to be much--into a savings account that's just for your child. The account can be used for saving for a special purpose, such as a trip to a theme park or game equipment. This method teaches while it rewards, in that children can see the value of saving as they watch the balance mounting every month. It also demonstrates an alternative to our have-to-have-it-now society's belief that we need instant gratification and teaches that some things are worth waiting for.   
  • A similar alternative to the above idea is to give a piggy bank and commit to put a small amount of money into it every month for a year. Then, encourage them to feed the pig every month. This is a great opportunity to teach them that putting away even pocket change can build up to a large amount of money over time. 
  • Let them take a class in something they're interested in. Whether it's cooking, art, dancing, gardening, or anything else, this is a chance to encourage their interests and talents.
  • Take a trip to the museum with your child and a few of their friends, followed by lunch. Explore the museum website in advance with your child to encourage learning and also build excitement for the outing. 
  • Take your child and some of their friends on a nature walk. Before you go, you and your child can study the area online together to learn all about the variety of things you'll see. 
  • Cook a special meal with your child's favorite foods.   
  • A fun alternative to the above would be to have your child cook that meal with you. Or, if a whole meal would be too overwhelming, some one-on-one kitchen time with you just baking cookies or a special dish would be fun. Make a recipe card that's just for your child. This will give them ownership over the cooking session and will be a wonderful keepsake. The cooking can even be divided into multiple sessions and come with a recipe box to store the cards for all the treats you make together. 
  • As mentioned before, for households that put restrictions on iPad or TV time, doling out some of that will turn that time into a treat.
  • If your child has a Kindle or at least a Kindle app (they're free for virtually any device), buy them a Kindle Unlimited subscription that will allow them to download books. This obviously has to be monitored though. In addition to personally monitoring what your child is downloading, there are also other controls that can be put in place. This is an excellent article on how to manage Kindle accounts used by kids. 


  • You can choose the number of Santa Bucks you want to give and set how many should be exchanged for each type of present. For example, in your household an hour of iPad time might be worth one Santa Buck and a day at the museum with friends worth five. If you give them these choices, your child can decide if they want five hours of iPad time or the outing. That's just one example though. You can decide whether you want these to be exchanged for one thing alone (e.g., iPad time) or if you want to offer a whole range of choices. Think of them as blank gift certificates that have their value determined by what's best for your children.

  • If you're not sure what choices to offer, ask your children what they want. Once you decide if their choices are appropriate, you can be assured that they'll really appreciate what they receive because they chose them.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. If you have any other experience gift ideas for kids please leave a comment below so others can benefit from them.

You can see more of my free designs at All Free Holiday Crafts

Credits: Thanks to mashamatsu of Creative Fabrica for the fun watercolor images used in these printable blank certificate templates. Creative Fabrica also has a great free art section. See disclosure below about these links.

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