Once again, ‘tis the season to give gifts. We are conditioned to think that these gifts must come in boxes or bags, but an attractive alternative may be shared in a simple envelope. I’m not suggesting cash (even if that’s the quintessential green!) or gift cards, but something more personalized that shows the recipient how much you care.
This year, I invite you to think less about buying things and more about buying experiences . Several years ago I discovered Cloud9 Living, which offers over 1,800 unique experiences all across the US, including dinner cruises and city tours, along with more adventurous experiences like driving a racecar or flying a fighter plane. Admittedly, some of these experiences are rather pricey, so you can instead demonstrate your thoughtfulness by remembering what they like to do, but perhaps don’t often do for themselves. Consider, for example, a massage or spa treatment or a hot air balloon ride. How about tickets to a live theater performance or a train ride to the wine country? A weekend at a cozy bed & breakfast could be a perfect gift.
The beauty of this type of gift is that you can spend as much or as little as you like. You can buy movie tickets rather than theater tickets, or ride go-carts rather than the hot air balloon. The important thing is that you’re spending time together doing things you enjoy. Making memories is your goal.
You can also offer gifts of service, like car washes for the guy who likes a clean car. Sure, you could buy a book of coupons from Waterway, but you could also offer a self-performed finish that includes a hand wax and thorough interior cleaning. Or an indulgent facial and body massage that leaves her completely satisfied. Maybe you offer to do your kid’s chores for a week or month, or babysit your sister’s kids so she can get away for a weekend. Your dad might really appreciate you cleaning the garage. What would make your loved one smile?
This year we’ve decided to travel together as a family to Chicago and spend a few days experiencing some of the many things this spectacular city has to offer. Sure, we’ll still have a few packages under the tree for sake of tradition, but we’re planning to minimize the materialism. Our homes are filled with well-intended gifts that end up collecting dust or space in a closet.
This year, be creative. Remember, the best gift isn’t necessarily something to have and to hold. Experiences are what create our emotions. So see what you can do with, for, or to your loved ones!
This was published in the Going Green section of the December 2013 issue of Spirit Seeker magazine.