Giving experiences instead of things

I made a bit of a non-resolution resolution this year.

I come from an extremely generous family. Around the holidays, we all spend a lot of time, care and money on exchanging meaningful – and sometimes expensive – gifts to one another. Sometimes it’s excessive, but I think we all enjoy being able to treat each other.

This Christmas was no different, although I did start to contemplate how I’ve been doing things. We’re all adults, we are all well enough off that if there was something that we wanted, we could buy it ourselves. While we were shopping we finally eased into “but would they actually like/use this?” territory more often than not. We were making guesses about the appropriateness of the gifts we were giving because we all already have all the things we really want/need.

I don’t want to undermine the possibility of opening up a new world with a great and thoughtful gift someone wouldn’t have ever bought themselves. An example was when we bought my folks AppleTV a couple of years back. I’m pretty sure they panicked when they opened it, thinking’s that they’d either need to break it to us that they wanted to return it, or worse, that they’d have to try to and figure out what the heck to do with it. As it was, we were tasked with getting it set up the following January and it’s actually become an everyday tool in their lives. My mom is constantly telling us about what she’s been watching on Netflix.

Through all of this contemplation, my non-resolution resolution became to give gifts that were experiences instead of just stuff. An experience could be a cooking lesson, a snowshoeing excursion, an overnight at a resort or a movie, concert, sporting event, etc. But an experience could also be a consumable like baking, jam, a cake, pickles or spa products, either store bought or homemade.

I put my idea into practice for the first time to help celebrate my girl Cara‘s birthday. Instead of buying her a gift that she may or may not even like, I decided to upgrade our tickets to the last game in our Canucks game package as a gift. We had way better seats than we’d grown used to and that made for a fun final night of the season.

It will certainly be a little more challenging to pull this off. It’ll require extra preparation, but t should also yield a lot more enjoyment. I’m looking forward to getting a little more creative with my gift giving.

Do you ever think about gifting experiences over stuff? Do you have any other ideas that would apply?

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