Can you remember what you gave your nearest and dearest last Christmas? Or what gift they gave you? No? How about birthday presents in 2019? If it was a substantial or significant present then you might well remember, but maybe your recall is failing for pretty much everything else. If, however, you were gifted an experience, there is every likelihood you know exactly who gave it to you because these create rich, wonderful memories.
We all know that we have enough ‘stuff’. We’re at ‘peak stuff’, so there’s little point in adding to the pile of things to house in our domestic space; often the gifts you receive aren’t to your taste or what you really want anyway. So why not spend time this Christmas choosing an experience as a gift, something that your friends, your children, your lover will always remember?
One Christmas on opening a wrapped parcel under the tree, I found a box which revealed a guidebook to Capri and a small selection of Italian sweets and foods. My gift was a long bank holiday weekend on that glorious island. Both the anticipation leading up to it and the memories years afterwards have kept that present so sweet in my mind – the gift that kept on giving.
If you are miles apart from close family members, perhaps the best Christmas experience you could give them is a dinner out or week together during a less pressurised time of the year? I took my two sisters to Paris for the day on Eurostar. It was meant to be for lunch, but we just walked, talked, looked and laughed. And it was only during the return journey, I realised we’d never been on a day out together. We still talk about it, and now only give each other experiences.
With the ‘experience economy’ riding high currently, you will find amazing and intriguing courses or events that will pique the interest of even the most ‘hard to buy for’ relatives and friends.
Kayaking across London, working with beautiful old type in a letterpress studio, a spa day, visiting Hatton Garden to choose the raw materials for a jewellery item, preparing sushi, being taught how to buy vintage at Kempton Park antiques market… The options are endless and yet can be as nuanced as you want. And if you can’t find the experience you are looking for, there is bound to be someone ready to put it together for you.
Children and teenagers love being given inventive experiences too. With 4 children, I used to face Christmas with a weary bank card. Christmas stockings on their beds as well as gifts under the tree took their toll on my time and imagination. Until one year I added experiences with lots of small vouchers into the equation. Pre-loaded coffee cards, a cinema voucher, credit for a spice selection, an in-store 2-hour stylist booking. The mix was such fun to put together. And by the time all of them had been recouped – probably about six months’ later, it meant that Christmas lasted until well into the following year creating all sorts of great memories.
Start your Christmas list early this year. Think about what it is each person loves to do, finds fascinating, has a penchant for, then really be inventive as to what they might like to do, to learn, to experience. How brilliant that your gift to them this Christmas will be something they will remember forever.
Erica Wolfe-Murray’s new book ‘Simple Tips, Smart Ideas : Build a Bigger, Better Business’ is out now. Full of her usual easy-to-use advice, lots of case studies, quick tips, diagrams and innovative ways to think about growing your business – its 288 full-colour pages will help you transform your business. Available from Amazon, Foyles and other leading booksellers.