By Hannah Rhodes, Consumer Watchdog Associate
For the past six years, 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) or buy a loved one a year-long membership to their favorite museum. It could be a big experience, like a weekend getaway, or a small thing, like a night bowling together. You can give them a gift card for a spa service, a favorite restaurant or activities such as stand-up paddle boarding.
Families and loved ones don’t always live close by. Virtual experiences can be a great way to connect. Some examples:
If someone is itching to travel, tour companies around the world have put together virtual tours so people can see the beauty of far-off locations.
Those who are missing the performing arts can enjoy streaming plays, concerts and other events that were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. You can share some of them for free or at a low-cost.
For adults, virtual wine tastings are available to enjoy as a group with the wine being shipped directly to your house.
Cameo offers personalized videos from actors, athletes and other celebrities. You request for them to give a video shout-out to a loved one for a holiday gift.
You can even opt to create your own virtual event, planning a trivia night or another activity that your loved ones enjoy doing together.
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. It can even be 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.