Give Experiences, Not Things

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

If you’re anything like the majority of the world right now; you may have some extra time on your hands. With that extra time, I challenge you to take a look around at your home, your surroundings. How many belongings do you have? How many do you actually need? If you’re anything like me, you may struggle with keeping items that were once gifted to you, whether you like them or even use them or not. As someone who is really trying (but not always succeeding) to live a more minimal lifestyle, my biggest struggle is letting go of items that I deem “sentimental.” For me, this may be my first doll, a purple secrets box with painted flowers all over, or even an old college t-shirt that I got for free. I don’t know what it is about me, but I have always struggled like this. When I was in grade school, I would refuse to trade snacks with any of my friends because I felt like it would hurt my mom’s feelings since she had packed that snack special for me. Those snacks somehow held sentimental value to me. Today I dare you to try to let go of some of that for the greater good. Life is so much more what you do and how you feel and less about what you have.

Sometimes I take a look around our apartment and I wonder how it all got here. Many items were certainly our own purposeful purchases, but many were also given to us. I could honestly talk with you for days about purging the items around your house, but that is for another day. Today, I want to talk to you about gifts.

What does a gift mean to you? Do you like giving? Receiving? Maybe both? A simple card or gift can mean the world to someone but it can also be incredibly wasteful. For example, I love cards and often keep a majority of them, but what about when I am done with them? Although some cards can be deconstructed and reused or recycled, this is unfortunately not something that everyone will do.

If you are anything like me, you may also tend to procrastinate, even when you don’t mean to or necessarily want to. The problem is that gift giving and procrastinating do not typically go well together. Procrastinating may often mean that you put together a gift last minute. This is one of my wife’s biggest pet peeves. Rightfully so, she rather give no gift at all instead of a last minute gift that wasn’t given much thought. This used to bother me as I don’t like to show up empty handed, but I have come to realize that she is right. An ill thought out gift has little to no value to the gift giver or the receiver. This gift will likely end up in a landfill as well.

Their is a current trend that we have been participating in for the last few years that I think is a great alternative. Instead of giving a gift, gift an experience, gift your time. Their is nothing as precious as your time and an experience will last so much longer than any candle or trinket. The last few years we have really enjoyed doing this with my younger brother. He has gotten to drive high speed go carts, run an obstacle course; we all enjoyed paintball. We didn’t want to get him yet another video game and we were happy to be able to spend the extra time with him. These are memories that we will all have and these are things that he still talks about.

Photo by Arina Wong on Unsplash

This summer, when you are heading to that graduation party or the virtual Father’s Day BBQ – how about gifting something different? What about a National Park Pass for that someone who has been longing to take a road trip? If they are looking to stay a bit more local, NH has a lot to offer as well! Could there be anything more exciting than experiencing skydiving together? Looking for something cheaper? How about a movie date? I can honestly say that a movie gift certificate is one of my very favorite gifts to receive. Taking a hike together can create some wonderful memories as well. Perfectly packed snacks and a beautiful summit are never disappointing.

Covid-19 may have stomped on our travel bugs and get togethers, but how about planning something together for when this is over? Giving someone something to look forward to provides both hope and wonder for the future. In the meantime, even a socially distant long walk together can be both refreshing and inspiring. I believe I do some of my best thinking on those walks.

Sometimes a moment does strike where you find the perfect gift for someone. This is a gift that you know someone has wanted, will love, and will use regularly. When you see this gift, I suggest not waiting for a special occasion. Let the occasion be now. A gift is so much more meaningful when someone knows that you were thinking of them at a random moment. It’s not their birthday or a holiday, they were simply in your thoughts. I hate to be sappy, but the thoughtfulness alone is a gift in itself.

Lastly, if you are stuck in a bind and really feel like you “need/want” to give a gift, here are a few go-to’s that can be a bit more meaningful and less wasteful.

  • Potted plant/favorite flower (to be planted in ground/only for people who you know will actually plant it)
  • Fruit basket (who doesn’t love fruit?!)
  • Make dinner together/show up with all of the fixings
  • Baby sitting “coupon”
  • Massage (typically for a partner)

Enjoy your time with each other and remember…less stuff, more happiness.

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