7 Tips for Gifting Experiences

December 6, 2018

I happen to love beautiful packaging and especially love giving gifts, but the last thing I want is to spend time, energy, and money on something my loved one doesn’t want or will quickly forget about. It pains me to think about all the gift cards I’ve given over the years that might go unused! Don’t get me wrong, some times the only thing a family members wants is a gift card to Banana Republic or J.Crew so they can pick out their own clothes, but what about the family members who are notoriously difficult, if not impossible to shop for? The family member who seemingly has everything? I hope the following tips will not only be a guide to giving better gifts, but a guide to gifting experiences that will turn into life long memories.

Something to keep in mind… While I love minimalism/essentialism, if you have a family member/spouse that scores high on the “gifts” love language, you might consider getting them something they have always wanted… But maybe see if you can turn that gift in to an experience! (For example, if they love candles and that’s what you usually buy them, try a candle making class!) So, unless you’re 100% confident that you have the absolute perfect gift for someone, consider gifting an experience.

A few quick ideas of experiences this holiday season before the 7 tips: ice skating, spending an evening talking with no distractions, smooching under the mistletoe, visiting a festival of lights, making a gingerbread house, tickets to see an author speak or a comedian, watching a wintertime sunrise or sunset on the beach (you might have the whole beach to yourselves- bring blankets to make the experience warm and cozy!). For more ideas from The Minimalists, click here

Listen – For me, the process starts with listening… As it gets closer to a birthday or Christmas, this can be a moot point, but I find my best inspiration does not come from Pinterest or Google, but from my loved ones. The last thing I want is to give the impression that I’m fishing for gift ideas because that defeats the purpose, but I always pay extra attention – Listening for ideas and making notes I can reference later. I’m a diligent note taker, so I trust myself to go back! Setting a reminder on your phone works too!

Share a trip – One of our first Christmas’ together, I gifted my wife Ashley a trip to Universal Studios to visit the new Harry Potter worlds… As fate would have it, Ashley gifted me the DVD set of of Harry Potter! The following year, Ashley’s parents and grandparents gifted a family ski trip… Only my second time ever skiing  (and of all the places Ashley’s grandfather has traveled, it remains one of his all-time favorite trips because we were all together)! You might also consider chatting with siblings before Christmas and visit one of your favorite childhood theme parks together. Or you might consider a gifting your spouse a weekend getaway… January is considered off season many places, so it is a great time to travel! It doesn’t have to be far or extravagant, the point is to be in the same place with no distractions! Some of my all time favorite trips have been just sharing a cabin with my closest friends – Simply being together, sharing meals, and making memories! (Below is a photo of a special surprise trip to Savannah that Ashley planned as a Christmas gift to me three years ago!)

Gift according to love languages – If you (and those you know!) have not taken the Love Languages test , I highly recommend it! We all seem to have a habit of gifting according to what WE want and not what the recipient wants… Change the trend this year! When it comes to gifts, there is no tool or cool gadget that my father in law doesn’t already have (or that doesn’t cost a fortune), so we always struggle to find the perfect gift. He often puts in overtime, so a perfect gift for him was an act of service – His past birthday we gave him 4 options of service oriented gifts (breakfast of his choice, washing his car, cleaning the gutters, or chopping wood), and he chose the breakfast of his choice! We ate like kings 🙂 See below for some gift ideas that relate to each love language!

Acts of Service – See above!

Quality Time – Bowling, Painting with a Twist, Date Box, or work through Ancestry.com with your grandparents

Physical Touch – Dance class, snuggly stargazing date, or maybe a couples massage

Receiving gifts – Project Repat (turn all of those old t-shirts they can’t part with into a blanket!), candle or soap making class

Words of Affirmation – Journal prompt (this one for my mom was probably her favorite gift of all time), Happy jar (take 100 pieces of paper and write things you love about them or special memories- they can pull one out and read it throughout the year when they need a dose of happy!)

Gift Consumables – This tip pleases my practical and my eco-friendly side – Gift a consumable! Perhaps a limited edition bag of coffee from a local roaster, handmade local chocolates, a nice bottle of wine or whiskey! Want to weave in an experience? Take it up a notch and visit a nearby distillery together, or host a whiskey/wine tasting at home. (After all, I always feel that Scotch is best appreciated in the presence of your closest comrades.

Bonus tip: Enjoy a glass with Nick Offerman AKA Ron Swanson (your welcome)

Make it active – Rent jet skis, ATV adventure tour, Tree Hoppers, Goat Yoga, SUP or kayak, or a hay ride

Gift your time – Give a friend a coupon for a night of babysitting, a coffee date to help her work through her goals for the upcoming year, or offer to come over for a couple hours on a Saturday so she can take that yoga class she never has time for. The gift of time is one of the best we can receive in this day and age of never ending busyness!!

Give the gift of timelessness – I am biased, but I can never repeat enough the value of portrait session and tangible prints

Try an album or wall print from your wedding, or if you are a guy that hates to be in front of the camera… Book a 20-30 minute mini session and your wife will know you love her! You agreeing to something you don’t enjoy is a true act of love, and when it’s all over you’ll have something that increases in value over time.

Give the gift of a portrait session or a timeless album – An anniversary session or family session! Contact me to book your family session and I’ll include a framed gift card that can be wrapped (and then re-use the frame from your family photo prints!)

We hope your photos will not merely be aids to memory, but represent what you saw and felt. Your artisan heirloom should increase in value each time you view it over a glass of wine.

What do all of these have in common? Time shared with loved ones. For most of these experiences, the gift will last far longer in your memory and theirs, you’ll move in to the near year with a closer bond, and you won’t be stuck with a stack of items to donate!

What are some of your favorite experiences that you have gifted? I can tend to be old school, so if there are any cool apps or websites that you use that help you to find experiences, please share!

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