Why giving “stuff” is not a good idea – give experiences instead
When my kids were growing up, we gathered with family in Phoenix, Arizona for Thanksgiving. The Friday following Thanksgiving, the 10+ children would gather for the annual bingo game hosted by Aunt Diane. Aunt Diane was the best aunt, generous to a fault. She would arrive in Phoenix with a suitcase full of bingo prizes that she had gathered over the previous months. These bingo prizes would include super balls, candy and hot wheels when the kids were young; jewelry and basketballs when the kids were older; and gift cards when the kids were teens. Although the prizes were very cool, the value of this experience was not the prizes but the shared experience with the cousins. The annual bingo game created a connection between the cousins that they would never forget and long cherish.
As we enter the holiday season, we have many gift giving options…we can give our loved ones “stuff” or we can give them experiences. I advocate giving experiences because of their lasting value and ability to transcend time and space in our minds and memories. Experiences enrich relationships and create bonds that will be the foundation of lasting connection.
Here are three categories of experiential gifts that will create lasting memories:
The Gift of Events
Two weeks ago I took my grandson to the annual Brickfest at the NRG Stadium in Houston. This event is a celebration of all things LEGO and it was a heaven for my little guy. He was able to revel in the worlds made of LEGO bricks by LEGO artists. He was able to contribute to LEGO mosaics and race LEGO cars down a track. And he was able to play in a swimming pool full of LEGOs. Are there special events that might interest your loved ones? These might include tickets to fairs, rodeos, theater, concerts and sporting events.
The Gift of Trips
A few years ago, we gave my mother-in-law a trip to Park City, Utah as a Christmas gift. With the passing of my father-in-law a few years previous, we felt that a little trip with our family might be just the right medicine. On this trip we visited historic sites, ate yummy food, shopped in Park City, explored the Olympic sites and enjoyed the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. We bonded with my mother-in-law and she was able to connect with us. Where does your family want to go? Would you be willing to exchange a boatload of gift-wrapped items for a trip to your favorite place?
The Gift of Tradition
Like the annual Bingo game, traditions are memorable and bring connection to family and friends. These traditions might include eating at a special restaurant – we eat waffles at the Seabrook Waffle House every 4th of July – or the tradition might include having a movie marathon over Thanksgiving weekend. Other traditions might include making certain food, performing service or watching movies on a certain day. Our family watches the movie “Christmas in Connecticut” every Christmas Eve, a tradition started years ago when we were living in Connecticut, far from home. What traditions do you have and how have they brought your family together?
As this holiday season approaches, think of what you can do reduce the “stuff” and increase the connection, bonds and love through the gift of experiences.