I feel like the older you get, the harder it is to give gifts, because most people you're buying for already have the things they actually need. On average, each American spends over $700 every year on Christmas presets, not including the purchases they throw in for themselves. Realistically, most of those items end up in the trash, lost or broken within in a few years, because as much as we appreciate the thoughtfulness of someone giving us a gift, most of those gifts just fill our space until something new does. I've definitely received some meaningful gifts over the years that I'll cherish forever, but most things are just that, things.
And the truth is, most of us don't need more material things - we need more connection and more quality time with the people we care about.
That's why last year I started focusing more on giving gifts that are experiences, whether they're for the recipient alone, or something we can share together. Whether it's a trip, a spa treatment, a concert ticket, experiences are something that people will always cherish, and it adds much more excitement to their life than just another item. Plus, it's another excuse to spend some time with someone you care about, because at the end of the day, we'll always make more money to buy more things if we so choose, but we won't always get more time.
Here's a list of 11 gift ideas that aren't things that I hope you inspire you to think outside things you can wrap this gift-giving season:
1. Spa Day
This could be as simple as a manicure, or as big as a full service spa day. This year, my siblings and I are taking each other to AIRE Ancient Baths in Chicago because we love to do the most. But if you're looking for less extravagant ideas, check Groupon in your city. I always find the best deals for all kinds of services, and they offer the option to send the service as a gift.
2. Amusement Park Day
Remember how much fun you had going to amusement parks with your siblings or friends as kids? Let me tell you, they're just as fun as adults. Most parks have discount days, especially in the winter months. If you don't live in a city where you can go to parks in the winter, buying tickets now will give you something to look forward to in the months ahead!
3. Tickets to a local event
This is the perfect way to support your community while spending time with someone you care about. One of my favorite holiday events in Nashville is Vintage Market Days - a vintage market filled with local and national vendors, creators, craft stations, food, and all of the festive things you could ever dream of. I went with friends last year, but this would also be perfect to take your mom or grandma to! I'm giving away two tickets on my Instagram page until 11/26 - click here to go enter!
3. Tickets to a concert or play
I think it's pretty impossible to have a bad time singing your favorite songs with someone you love. Even in the nosebleed seats, nothing beats that joy.
4. Movie tickets
This is a super simple idea, but the perfect opportunity to make a night out of spending time with someone.
5. Wine tasting
This is another thing you can find on Groupon, and is the perfect idea for your girlfriends, Grandma, or any other wine lover in your life. It's an opportunity to celebrate the season, catch up, and do what you love with who you love.
6. Hobby Class - painting, pottery, yoga etc.
Whether you get them one class with you, or a month pass somewhere they love, this is a great gift for anyone interested in trying something new or continuing something they already love. After the holidays, most of us are trying to avoid spending money on ourselves, so having something like this to look forward will be such a blessing.
7. A brunch date on you
Remember when you used to make your parents coupon books as kids? Make your friend, or sibling, or parent a "brunch on you" card, so they have a physical reminder and can redeem it when it works for them.
8. Museum tickets
Whether you're going to admire art, explore science, or just goof around with your favorite person, this is the perfect way to get outside your normal element. If you check any museum's website, they typically have discount days and seasonal events.
9. Sporting event tickets
If you're anything like me, Dad gifts are always the hardest. As I've gotten older, I've realized what parents want more than anything is time with their kids, so whether or not you are also a sports fan, this a great way to enjoy some quality time with your favorite man (or sport-loving lady). You can check out sites like Gametime for discounted seats and tickets.
10. Photo shoot
You know those embarrassing family photos your mom still has hanging in the house from 10 years ago? Schedule a photoshoot to update those, spend time with your family, and give your mom, or grandparents, a gift they'll cherish for years.
11. An adventure day
Whether it's a day trip to somewhere nostalgic, or somewhere you've always wanted to go, I think we could all use a little bit more adventure in our lives.
At the end of our lives, our friends and family are probably not going to remember the physical things we gave them, they're going to remember the time we spent and the memories we made with them, so I challenge you to give the gift of time this year. If you have any of your own ideas for gifts that aren't things, I'd love to hear them!