Make Memories, Not Waste: 35+ Practical, Thoughtful Gifts
Experiential and consumable gifts for the supply-chain-havoc-wreaking holiday season
Studies show that experiences bring more happiness to people than stuff does. Anticipating an experience—a trip, an upcoming concert, dinner with friends—makes us happy before the actual event. In other words, we benefit from the experience before we actually experience the experience. Afterward, we have fond memories. And even if the experience goes badly, we still have a good story to tell, which also brings happiness when we regale people with it later: “Remember the time I caught poison oak on our camping trip when I made out in the bushes with that Richard guy?”
Entertainment and leisure
Sports: Tickets to a sporting event, lift tickets, skating rink passes, yoga class passes, gym memberships
Cultural: Tickets to the symphony, ballet, opera, museum
TLC: Spa day, massage, haircut and style
Travel: Weekend getaway, campsite fees, train tickets
You can never really go wrong with a gift of food:
Invite friends out for dinner and pick up the tab.
Throw a small dinner party. (Go here for information on gathering safely.)
Make your recipient a reservation at their dream restaurant. Of course, they can’t dine alone so you’ll need to go with them…
The gift of learning
I came up with lots of ideas here and want to do most of them now:
Music lessons: piano, violin, voice, drums, guitar
Dance lessons: tango, salsa, ballet, jazz
Sewing classes (Sign up for my free produce bag Zoom sewing class on 12/16)
Painting and drawing classes
Horseback riding lessons
Cooking classes (Check out my sourdough classes here, including a free sourdough starter class on 12/28!)
Scuba diving lessons
Several of these will work over Zoom
Services to help with work
Software and apps. I wouldn’t complain if someone bought me a few subscriptions. The pro version of Canva enables me to customize fonts and colors to make graphics like the one below. I pay for all kinds of other subscriptions as well: business email, a Wordpress business plan (no pesky ads!) and plugins, an accounting program and so on.
Help for the easily distracted. Although skeptical initially, I get much more done working from home on Focusmate. The first time I tried it, I was hooked! You meet a random person virtually (camera on, sound off typically), work together for 25- or 50-minute sessions and hold each other accountable. (I have it on right now as I type this!)
Training. If a family member or friend needs to take a class or attend a conference to further their knowledge in their field, you could pay for that training. You’ll also find all kinds of classes online at Udemy, Skillshare, Linkedin Learning and so on.
Dream help. Offer to watch the kids or cook dinner.
Personal trainer. I wouldn’t suggest you spring this on a friend or family member out of the blue, but if you know someone who would like to get started with a personal trainer and perhaps can’t afford it, consider setting this up for them.
Session with a dietician. If you have a friend with gut or other health issues, this might be a good choice if they have mentioned wanting to see a dietician.
Session with a financial advisor. As with all of the suggestions in this section, know the recipient well. If someone close to you has said, “My financial life is a mess. What shall I do?” or “I can’t get out of debt. For the love of God please help me!” you could help.
Session with a business planner. Know someone who wants to start a business and needs help getting started? Pay for a meeting with a business planner.
Personal organizer. Whether they have piles of papers everywhere that need to be filed away, or haven’t had time to arrange for a handyman to fix the broken shower drain or simply need someone to pick up a few bags of groceries for them, the overwhelmed, overworked and harried person on your list may love this one.
House cleaners. You don’t want to insult your hoarder brother who lives in a filthy apartment but if he doesn’t mind, hire housecleaners for the day to clean it up. Try to find independents rather than use a service that pimps out housecleaners, pays them next to nothing and hoards all the profits. If you’re a better person than I, clean your brother’s bathroom yourself.
Therapist. As I said, know your recipient well. Our simultaneous, intertwined crises have spawned an additional one—a mental health crisis. If you know someone who can no longer afford therapy and wants to continue, you could pay for a session or two.