It’s November. That means my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) is coming up and the days are getting even colder. It also means that it’s time to start thinking about the gift-giving season. Now most people wait until Black Friday to go crazy on Christmas and Hanukkah shopping. However, if you give gifts the way I do, it’s less stressful to start thinking about these things a tad earlier.
As regular readers know, I strongly prefer experiences to “stuff”. Here are all the problems with giving physical things:
- Hard to Find the Right Gift – It can be really challenging to find something that the recipient doesn’t already have. Does he/she LOVE a certain athlete? Chances are he/she already has that athlete’s jersey. Likes cooking? Probably already has a solid frying pan. You see the issue here.
- Can Be Expensive – So often “things” are judged by there level of expense. So in order to give a “better” gift, you have to shell out more dough!
- Easily Forgotten – Often, receivers will be thrilled with the idea of the gift you give them. But soon, the novelty wears off and the gift just becomes part of their clutter.
- Doesn’t Promote Your Relationship – You have the gift. You give it to the recipient. They thank you. That’s all the interaction that happens, usually.
- Clutters Your Life – After you buy it, YOU have to store it and wrap it before the holiday. Not to mention it takes up serious room in your luggage if you are traveling!
On the other hand, experiential gifts fix those problems:
- Every Experience is Unique – Just because a sports fan has already been to a ballgame, doesn’t mean they won’t want to go again!
- Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive – Sure, some experiences are VERY expensive, but others are not. Even the less expensive experiences can be viewed as very valuable to the recipient!
- Making Memories – The recipient will always have a story to tell about the experience! You can’t lose or break that!
- Relationship Building – My favorite types of experiential gifts are the ones that you and the recipient DO TOGETHER! Not only does this mean you get to interact and enjoy the other person’s company, but it’s also a little like giving a (socially acceptable) gift to yourself!
- No Clutter – You don’t have to worry about lugging huge boxes to give to your recipient or storing it for months beforehand.
So, to get your creative minds working on great experiential gifts, I have come up with 10 ideas that I have given or am planning on giving:
- Tastings – Put on a wine tasting, beer tasting, cheese tasting, bacon tasting, or any other tasting that you think will go over well! Find interesting and different offerings within the category. During the event, give everyone a piece of paper and ask them to rate each offering (if you want it to be a blind tasting, you can number the offerings first). This is a great gift for a family or bigger group as you get to discuss, compare and have a great time! Plus revealing who likes what and seeing which person your tastes align with is a lot of fun!
- Make a Meal – This is another great one for a group. If you are young, I guarantee that your parents will appreciate it as well! Go all out with ambiance (candles, place cards, little menus) and make sure to do all the cleanup as well!
- Plan a Camping Trip – Camping takes a lot of preparation and work! If all the recipient has to do is show up and enjoy the great outdoors, while you do the grunt work, you will make your outdoorsy friends/family very happy!
- Picnic – If you don’t want to stay overnight in nature, you can plan a picnic. Take the best ideas from “Make a Meal” and take them on the road. You can also plan for outdoor activities like playing catch, bocce, or a landscape drawing competition (doesn’t matter if one person is much better than the other).
- Stray Boots Scavenger Hunt – A couple of friends of mine started a really cool company that allows you to play a game, while exploring a city. I’ve done it a few times and always had a blast. Check it out. It would make a great experiential gift!
- Treasure Hunt – If you are locked in to giving “stuff”, you can make it into an experience by creating a series of clues that the recipient has to decode and follow in order to find their presents! My mom would do this every Christmas for my sister and me. I remember the hunts fondly. I am hazy on what I actually received every year.
- Day Trip – Go visit a quaint, small town nearby. Grab a bite at a local restaurant. Visit the tiny, weird museum in the center of town. You can explore on a bike or on foot, but if you engineer this and pay for the meals, this could be a great getaway, especially for a romantic relationship!
- Baby Sitting/Pet Sitting – Allowing a friend to get away with THEIR significant other is another great gift idea. You can also “photo document” the experience that you and the child or pet have. Send them a Animoto video afterwards!
- Make Christmas Happen for Someone Else – This ruins the surprise a bit, but if you and the recipient decide that, instead of exchanging gifts, you are going to make Christmas happen for a less fortunate family. Just google “Sponsor a Family for Christmas” in your area and see what pops up!
- Create a Song or Video (No Talent Required) – If you ARE musically inclined, write and sing a song for someone. If not, you can head over Fiverr.com and search for “sing my lyrics” or “make a song“. For $5, you can have a custom song created for you!
- Kiva Gift Card – Sure, this feels kind of like an actual gift, but giving someone the experience of helping others is great! And Kiva in general is a great way to give.
- Homemade Booze/Food – Again, this is another “thing”, but it’s consumable and sharing the experience of consuming something you made and being able to discuss the flavors and the process with the recipient is fun!
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