It is only September, but I have already seen Christmas trees and holiday presents in Costco. Most people probably aren’t thinking about holiday gift buying now, but they will be in another month or two. If you are like most people, you probably have difficulty coming up with gift ideas for several people on your gift giving list; most people often have everything they need, and what they don’t have, they buy themselves. Or, you may look around your house at “stuff” you are not using that is just taking up space and dread the latest infomercial product Aunt Shirley will buy you for the holidays because she doesn’t know what else to give you.
If you are tired of giving more “stuff” that people don’t need or the generic gift cards that people now resort to, consider giving a different present this year—the gift of experience.
Maybe your best friend, inspired by Dancing with the Stars, has always wanted to take a ballroom dancing class but can’t justify spending the money on that kind of indulgence. Why not give the gift of a class or two for her so she can try it out?
Perhaps your sister recently had a baby and would like nothing more than a weekend away to reconnect with her husband. You could offer to babysit for the weekend or to pay for a room at a bed and breakfast for her.
The opportunities are endless for this type of gift. Chances are that those closest to you often tell you what they would like to do and what is most important to them at this stage in their lives. By listening closely, you will have endless gift giving possibilities.
People often will not splurge on things they want to try or experience, so they will appreciate your gift all the more. In addition, they will remember your gift for years to come. You probably don’t remember that cousin Ricki gave you a $50 gift card to your favorite department store last holiday season, but you will remember that she paid for a three hour cooking class for you to take at the local culinary school.
Another bonus of giving the gift of experience is that there is no remnant of it physically. Unlike gifts that you don’t want or need that just clutter your house because you feel bad throwing them out or selling them in your next garage sale, the gifts of experience do not take up a physical presence in your home. They enrich your life and create pleasant memories, and you are able to keep your home free of clutter.
If you are tired of the commercialism of the holidays and would like to connect to your friends and family on a different, more thoughtful level, consider giving the gift of experience this upcoming holiday season. Chances are they will enjoy the gift and the new experience and will remember it for years to come.
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.