It’s a happy coincidence that Little Rock Family’s Birthday Party Guide prints during the same month as my birthday. February — what could be considered a cold and bleak month — is made a little brighter with this reminder of festivities, gifts, sweet treats and a gathering of friends.

I probably won’t spend my day at a trampoline park, museum or skating rink (though I wouldn’t be opposed to any of those), but I can guarantee that there are hundreds of central Arkansas kiddos who will celebrate their birthdays at one of the fantastic spots we have listed in our guide.

Which brings me to my favorite part of birthdays: the experiences and memories you take from them. As a kid, some of my absolute favorite birthday gifts were tickets to plays at a local theater. I went to several, but the one I remember best is “Charlotte’s Web.” I had read the book for school and watching the story come to life on stage was the perfect birthday surprise.

One year my sister’s gift was a trip to American Girl Place — the American Girl Doll store in downtown Chicago (we lived in the Chicago suburbs). She still has the photo of her, Felicity and our dad at the table together enjoying lunch.

The gift of experiences so often trumps anything you can wrap up in boxes. I know many parents struggle with the dilemma of what to get their kids when they often have so much already. New toys get lost in the clutter of a messy room so quickly, but the memories from experiences last for years to come.

Just last year, my husband and I took a weekend trip to Bentonville for my birthday. We went to Crystal Bridges, the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari, enjoyed great food and had a memorable couple of days.

And a not-so-secret perk to giving experiences as gifts? The gift-giver often gets to participate in the experience as well. An experience can turn into a gift for the whole family — after all, everything is more fun when you do it with those you love. And as I’m sure you know, we’re big supporters of family over here.

So this year, think about experiences before items and pull out the car keys rather than the wrapping paper to make your kids’ birthdays extra special.

Happy memory making!