The Gift That Keeps On Giving
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I challenge YOU to rethink the art of gift giving.
Gifts. Those little bundles of joy we all love to receive and fret over giving (well most of us anyway). Tis the season, my friends. That one special time of year where more things are purchased than ever before and malls are stuffed to the brim with frenzied shoppers.
But what if it didn’t have to be?
What would holidays (in general) look like if we all bought a little less THINGS and a little more EXPERIENCES?
Well, we’d all have a lot less clutter in our lives for one, and the customer service lines post-holidays would be a lot shorter. You see, experiences can’t be returned.
Experiences, you see, are FOREVER.
Now, I’m not saying material gifts are bad, not at all. There’s a special joy in receiving a tangible present. It offers a kind of immediate happiness that you can see, touch, and enjoy in the here and now. I’m just asking you all to think, just for a second, how much more enriched our lives would be if we traded just a little of those things for experiences.
While a tangible gift provides an immediate burst of happiness, as time goes on it tends to fade into oblivion, whether by growing old and wearing out, breaking, getting lost, or simply being discarded as our tastes change over the years. Experiences, however, leave a lasting impression on us. They allow us to create memories that will last forever. Experiences can’t be discarded, are immune to wearing out, and are impossible to break.
Yes, the sharpness of our memories can fade, but, luckily for us, it is now easier than ever to capture all of our incredible experiences on camera. That way we’ll always have a reminder of the awesome mischief we got into (just kidding, I know you’re all angels).
What experiences exactly are we capturing?
Here are some awesome ideas for cool experiential gifts you can give, or ask for.
Something cool that we’ve done in the past is instead of buying each other things for Christmas or a birthday, we plan a trip somewhere cool we’ve always wanted to go. We do this fairly often, but perhaps the coolest holiday trip we’ve planned was our Christmas vacation last year to Zhangjiajie, home of China’s Avatar Mountains.
Since we’re away from home anyway over the Christmas holiday, we decided to skip the traditional gifts and spend our holiday hiking around some of the most unique and otherworldly mountains on earth, and of course, walking across the world’s longest and highest glass bridge! Now we have an incredible Christmas memory we will never forget, Santa hats included.
Now, planning a trip as a gift doesn’t have to be this ridiculously expensive, elaborate vacation abroad. Maybe you drive to the beach for a weekend or go camping in a park near your house, the point is to get out of the house and make new memories with family or friends.
Is there something you know a friend or family member has always wanted to do? A skill they have always wanted to learn, or maybe something they already know, but want to excel at?
Find a teacher offering lessons, whether it’s music, sports, cooking, language, whatever the genre (trust me there’s someone out there that teaches it) contact them, and buy a certain number of lessons. If they’re already taking lessons from someone, you can always contact their teacher and offer to pay for their next x number of classes.
An easy way to find a teacher to buy lessons from is to simply do a Google search for, for example, piano teachers in (insert your city). This will give you a start, and of course, you should also put the word out in your social circle to see if any of your acquaintances know someone they can put you in contact with.
Just imagine the surprise on your friends’ faces when you present them with a piano lesson as a gift, something you know they’ve always wanted to learn but never made time for. Giving them a lesson as a gift could be just the push they need to finally start doing that thing they’ve always dreamed of. And YOU made it happen. Wouldn’t that just make you both feel all mushy gushy inside?! All those feels, that is the true goal of gift giving.
Similar to lessons, we also have courses. Online courses work great for this because they’re not as much of a time crunch.
Say you have a friend who really wants to get into photography. Buy her a photography course. Or maybe you know someone that really wants to write a book, but doesn’t know where to start. Get them a writing course.
Everything you and your people could ever want to do, know, or learn, is out there and available just waiting to be consumed. You don’t need no expensive university to teach you how to take great photos.
Getting started is often the hardest part. By gifting a course, you’re helping your loved ones to take that first giant step from 0 to 1 and make the rest of the learning process a whole lot easier for them.
Another cool experiential gift idea is to buy someone a ticket to a clinic, workshop, or conference happening in your area.
Think of what passions or hobbies your loved ones have. Is there some event they’ve been talking about related to that that they would love to go to? Is there an expert in that niche holding a clinic or workshop and you know your friend would just go gaga over getting to attend and learn from?
This gift involves a bit of luck in terms of alignment of timing, but it’s definitely another idea to keep in the back of your mind.
Is there some awesome event that you and your friends have been dying to go to? Like a concert by one of your favorite bands, a festival, or a sporting event perhaps?
Buy a ticket and get yo asses on the road. Maybe it’s in your city, or maybe you’ll be road trippin or flying the friendly skies to get there, but, peeps, it’s time to stop talking about going to Burning Man, and just go do it already!
Make 2018 your year of taking action! And take your friends/family along for the ride because life is just better shared.
This one’s kind of like a combo between lessons and events, because some things are more just super freaking awesome bucket list check-offs than practiced skills. Mostly because they’re highly unfeasible for most people to learn to do on their own.
For example skydiving, paragliding, base jumping, bungee jumping, white water rafting, scuba diving, riding in a hot air balloon, taking a helicopter ride, etc. etc… you get the gist.
I just realized that all of the activities listed above are super adventurous, but they don’t have to be. It could just be stuff that you wouldn’t normally indulge in. More non-adventurous examples include wine tasting, massage, a spa day, going to an amusement park or water park or seeing a play.
An activity makes an awesome gift, just make sure that the gift receiver has, in fact, expressed interest in doing these things, especially if they’re on the adventurous list.
Now that you’ve got some ideas, why should you go this route instead of the physical gift?
What makes gifting experiences so much more incredibly awesome than the traditional present?
Not only will your gift last FOREVER in the memories of those who received them, but gifting someone an awesome new life experience has so many more unearthed benefits for those who receive your gifts.
Collecting experiences and creating memories are life’s bread and butter. It’s what makes us feel fulfilled, creates and sense of community, increases confidence, makes people more rounded, and ultimately more open-minded and all around better and more amazing human beings. Not to mention all the cool stories we’ll now have to tell from getting out there and doing more with our lives.
How do experiences accomplish all this awesomeness?
To put it simply, they’re helping people to do more meaningful things with their lives. Experiences get people to engage with the world around them, whether by collaborating with or learning from others, meeting new like-minded people, or exposing themselves to new and different things via travel (visiting someplace new), taking lessons, enrolling in courses, going to events and participating in different activities.
For the Gift Giver
By gifting experiences rather than things you become the facilitator of positive change. You get to help someone to better themselves and the world around them. You get to create new memories with the ones closest to you (if you’re planning a trip together or going to some event). You get to be the catalyst for a happy memory that will last a lifetime.
What do you think, are you ready to start gifting a little more experiences and a little less things?
P.S. Not all of these gifts can or should be surprises. These can be things you do together with friends and family or something they do on their own.
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