Years ago I ran a baby business (that’s baby massage and yoga classes, not selling babies). This time of year always brought up the subject of gifts. Surprisingly 😉 The babies used to get inundated with clothes and toys with the parents receiving so many gifts from friends, family and colleagues. Often parents would end up donating bags and bags of clothes to friends or the charity shop. Many items still had the labels on where the babies had grown out of them before having a chance to wear them. Parents in my classes would say they didn’t need anything else for the baby but they knew they’d be given even more “stuff” over Christmas.
Experiences versus things
What they really valued was time with their babies doing fun activities. The cost of doing various classes adds up quickly, especially for mums on maternity pay. I used to offer gift vouchers so my courses could be given as a present. Many a mum joined my sessions because they’d been given a voucher when they went off on maternity leave or as a Christmas or birthday gift.
The benefits of that voucher were huge for the recipient (and their baby):
- They had a reason to get out the house and enjoy some nurturing and support in the very early weeks of their baby’s life.
- They spent concentrated time bonding with their baby everyday because of the massage and yoga routines they learnt.
- The health and neurological benefits of doing the above last a child’s life time.
- The mums met a group of other women going through the same life experience as them. Commonly they continued meeting regularly, even years after their babies grew up.
I could go on but I’m not here to extol the virtues of baby massage. What I’m saying is, after a point we don’t need or want more “things”. As humans we crave experiences. I know at Christmas there’s a bit of a stigma about giving people vouchers. Like if we do that it means we haven’t given the gift any thought and we’re a killjoy because an envelope isn’t that exciting to open.
Why vouchers aren’t an inconsiderate after-thought
However, I’d like to challenge that. I’m not talking about picking up a generic gift card at the grocery checkout. I’m talking about asking for or gifting experiences that will bring joy to you/the recipient. Living your “decluttered” life usually involves working through a list of exciting activities, trips or ventures. Asking others to contribute to these (or contributing to someone else’s list) is a fantastic way of realising these adventures sooner rather than later.
Travel, adventure and other activities change us (for the better). It doesn’t have to be some exhilarating, once in a lifetime activity either. Maybe on your Christmas list you ask for membership to your local craft or art group. Maybe it’s membership to the National Trust so you can get out into some beautiful spaces. Perhaps it is a special experience for a holiday you’re already going on. Even if someone just wants to make a small contribution many places sell gift vouchers from £5. It might not be too exciting to open, but if it’s contributing to something important for you, then that’s pretty exciting in the long run.
What experiences can do for you
It’s easy to get a bit caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, don’t you think? If you’re not careful you’ll pop up to look around and see how much time has passed and realise with horror that your life list is sitting there completely unticked.
If you make an effort to do some of those things, there’s a whole list of knock-on effects that could happen. You can’t even begin to predict the sequence of events that could unfold from one little adventure.
- You could meet new friends.
- You might learn a new skill
- Your perception of an issue could change dramatically after your experience.
- You may discover a new hobbies that gives you pleasure for years to come.
- You’ll have great memories to keep forever.
- You can use your experience to inspire or connect with others.
Experiences you could ask for
If you don’t have a list of things ready to go, here are some suggestions to get you thinking about what would add a bit of zing to your life.
- Wine tasting event
- Afternoon tea somewhere fancy
- Boat trip to see dolphins
- Cooking or baking classes
- Foreign language classes
- Art or craft classes
- Music lessons
- Tango, salsa or burlesque dance classes
- A meal at a posh restaurant
- An evening of baby sitting
- A make-up lesson
- A hot air balloon ride
- Indoor sky diving
- Spa day
- Spy Mission Day
- Murder mystery dinner
So there you go. The other bonus is that your choice of gift could be significantly more eco-friendly this way. Instead of giving or getting a gift that’s surplus to requirement, that’s heavy on plastic or chemicals and doesn’t make you feel amazing, choose a gift experience that keeps giving.
Here are some ideas for you of where to buy gift experiences:
Do you agree?
What are your thoughts on this? Have you gifted experiences before, received them, want to try it out? Let me know in the comments below 🙂