Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give the Priceless Gift of “Experiences” GUEST POST (30 Days of Christmas)

This is a Guest Post by Tara Rojas along with Kate Stabrawa.  It has wonderful advice as we seek to make Christmas a special time for our families/friends. 

Give the Priceless Gift of “Experiences”

As our money and time become more and more precious – especially around the holidays – giving the gift of an “experience” can be truly special and thoughtful.

An experience – as opposed to an item or thing – creates memories for a lifetime. The experience doesn't create dust or take up space. Everyone could use one – whether it's time spent together with a loved one, or a well-deserved moment of solitude. It's never anything someone doesn't need or already have. And, recent articles and studies have touted the fact that is great experiences and memories – not things – that contribute toward one's happiness.

Think beyond the spa gift certificate (though, who wouldn't turn that down). Truly tailor the experience gift to your recipient's interests or wishes.

Cloud 9 is the ultimate website to purchase experiences. As their tagline calls it: “the gift of passion and dreams”. While more on the lavish side, an experience doesn't have to be so elaborate.

Perhaps it's a creative card with an IOU for the recipient:
  • A Day of Doing...Whatever You Want
  • Convertible car rental ride, exploration and picnic
  • A beautiful night snowshoeing in the mountains
  • The opportunity to visit a new part of your city or state
  • A house cleaning from yours truly
But if you want to stick to something more traditional or concrete, here are some other ideas that can be tailored to your specific city:
  • Annual membership to the zoo, science museum or art museum for someone wanting a little more culture in her life
  • Some local cities are now doing walking tours of gourmet shops (see Denver Gourmet) for the foodie friend
  • Teatime for Two with your best girlfriend
  • Golf foursome on a beautiful day
  • Lasertag or Paintball for a new level of family bonding
  • Fly fishing lessons for the husband that watches “River Runs Through It” again and again
  • Language lessons for the friend that's always wanted to learn Italian
  • Canvas & Cocktails for the friend that wants some artistic inspiration (see, again, a shop in Denver as an example) 
If you'd like to make an experience really special, here are a few ideas that would require a little more legwork.
  • Want to re-create a first date? Work with your spouse's favorite restaurant to make his/her favorite meal.
  • Husband's a wine lover? Arrange a private wine tasting at a local vineyard or wine cellar shop
  • Wife's been traveling or busy planning all the holiday festivities? Arrange for a magically clean house when your spouse arrives home from work one day.
  • Grandma loves to take photos of her new grandchildren? Hire a photographer or visit a local photography shop to set up a few digital camera lessons.

 Of course, one of the mainstays of experience gift giving is the opportunity of travel. Many airlines and hotels now make it easy to buy gift certificates. Be sure to also check out any credit card points you may have redeemed. For example, Discovercard has a two-night stay at the Hyatt available for redemption in their rewards offering.

In addition, sites like Bedandbreakfast.com – offer special gift certificate deals if you sign up for their e-newsletters. Travel sites like travelocity.com and hotels.com also offer gift certificates. In all instances, however, just remember to read the fine print for any expiration dates or blackout times.

If your recipient is more of a homebody or you’d like to give someone the gift of peace and quiet, magazine subscriptions are an excellent, inexpensive gift. Often, for $20 or less, you can give a year's worth of fabulous, glossy pages right to your recipient's mailbox. Give subscriptions like “O” magazine and “Whole Living” for friends that could use a little chill-out time; or “Elle” and “InStyle” for those fashion-forward friends of yours. And if a friend is already receiving said magazine, most publications will simply extend the subscription time. To actually give the gift, take a current issue, put it in a bag with your personal card and perhaps some tea or coffee, and then tie a ribbon on it.

Have you received a great experience as a gift from a friend or family member? What was it and how did you/do you feel about it? Do you have any other ideas for experiential gifts?

Tara Rojas is the co-founder, along with Kate Stabrawa, of the blogs Women’s Saving Club and Women’s Webucation.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips and ideas! Time together and the thoughtful little things in life are what create the most precious memories that last our lifetime! Sometimes we need to be reminded of that....Thank you for reminding us that gifts don't necessarily have to have a pricetag....we ourselves can be gifts to others in many ways! :)


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