Buy less gift guide: Experiences create wonderful memories

Stuff might wear out or get tossed out, but the memory of time together can last forever. Here are some ideas for experiences you can share.

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Hannah Rhodes

Since about 2015, my family has picked experiences over holiday gifts. We found that we already had too much stuff. If a family member had needed something throughout the year, they had already purchased it. Instead of the family tradition of buying each other socks, we focused on things we could do together.

In choosing experiences, we have found we spend a lot more quality time together and it has led to wonderful memories. As a family, we were fortunate enough to celebrate a New Year’s in New Orleans and enjoyed live music on Austin’s famous Sixth Street. Last holiday season, we did not travel to a new place, but decided to still focus on experiences. We found a lot of enjoyment in a biking trip together and viewing outdoor Christmas lights at the local botanical gardens.

Experiences can be a great gift during the holiday season — whether on their own, or with you or others. With hectic holiday schedules, experiences can occur whenever the gift recipient has the time.

The best part of experiences is that they come in many different forms. You could:

  • Purchase tickets to a sporting event.
  • Schedule a tea time (or a tee time).
  • Buy a loved one a year-long membership to their favorite museum.
  • Arrange a big thing such as a weekend getaway, or a small thing, like a night bowling together.
  • Give them a gift card for a spa service, a favorite restaurant or activities such as stand-up paddle boarding.

Experiences can also be incredibly simple. It could be:

  • Walking a nature trail for the first time.
  • Everyone could come together in-person or virtually to cook with new and favorite recipes for the holidays.
  • A designated movie day where you provide snacks and hot cocoa.

Finding the perfect gift can be stressful during what should be a fun holiday season. Experiences can take the place of traditional presents, which are often abandoned or tossed out anyway, and lead to memories that are, instead, forever cherished.

Return to Buy Less, Give More main page for other gift ideas

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Hannah Rhodes