It was in early 2011, after beginning The Living with Less Project, when my husband and I decided to gift experiences instead of things for the next twelve months. It made total sense, especially after beginning to pare back our belongings and realizing we had more material items than we would ever need. So, you might be wondering how we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and holidays this past year. Well, read on for a few highlights of our 2011 gifting...and the lessons we learned along the way.
Highlights from Our Year of Gifting Experiences
- To celebrate hubby's birthday last February, we took a sailing lesson in Santa Barbara, California. We were already visiting for an unrelated reason, so we decided to take advantage of the warm west coast weather and get out on the water. It was absolutely lovely!
- For our wedding anniversary, we took a day trip to Princeton, NJ. We enjoyed the lovely spring day by walking the town and campus and indulging on a yummy dinner.
- In mid-June I boarded a plane and visited my parents for both Fathers' Day and my dad's birthday. We spent the weekend visiting with family, cooking food and being outside. It was really a great weekend!
- Because my birthday fell on the same weekend as last year's October snowstorm, a few plans had to change. Hubby had a secret up his sleeve, but his plan was foiled by ice, falling trees and power outages. So instead, I got a birthday card with all kind of IOUs: errands, back rubs and home cooked dinners. I've only cashed in a few, it's definitely the kind of thoughtful gesture that keeps on giving!
Lessons from Our Year of Gifting Experiences
- Gifting experiences isn't cheap. In fact, it can be quite costly, especially if you're taking a trip to mark the occasion or going to a concert or similar event. So, we suggest being creative! We found that the occasions when we spent time together, adventuring around a new place or learning a new skill, were the most fun and memorable. Looking back now we are grateful we spent time doing what's important to us, rather than stressing out over what to purchase for this holiday or that birthday.
- There are, in fact, occasions that call for an actual gift. We gave the year's first present in mid-July for a friend's baby shower. Knowing she actually needed things for the baby she was about to have, I found and purchased the most useful item on her registry. I was amazed...it was the first gift I'd given all year, and it felt great to give it. She needed the item and wouldn't have been able to bring her baby home from the hospital without it.
- Giving the gift of handmade is always a thoughtful, inspiring route to take. Making holiday gifts or supporting a crafter's trade is always rewarding. This holiday season we gave handmade jewelry, note cards, ceramics, tea towels and a knitted accessory. It was fun to tell the stories behind the gifts and the stories of the artists we were supporting.
2011, our year of gifting experiences, was actually a year mixed with gifting experiences, handmade and a few items that were essential and needed. Overall the year transformed the way we think of gifting: now it's more about the gesture and thought than the actual item. I don't think we'll ever stop giving experiences; it's been a fun adventure that we don't want to end!
(Image: Chewing the Cud)