Give the Gift of Memorable Experiences This Holiday Season

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(Photo: iStock)

The holidays are around the corner and as any Womanista knows, “shop ‘til you drop” is one way we push our gift giving to the next level. But while buying shiny, new things for family and friends might be satisfying in the moment, the thrill of presents can fade as we find ourselves looking towards another purchase to fill that borough of contentment.

Today, an increasing number of people have started to gift experiences or their time as holiday gifts. As a way to strengthen relationships, shared experiences bring a sense of relatedness to one another, and help generate more happiness and meaning. Researchers at San Francisco State University found those who spend money on experiences rather than material items reported feeling happier and that their money was “better spent.”

This holiday season, make a world of difference to those you love by opting for experiences as gifts.

Give the gift of lessons and classes
Find something unique to family and friends, and hone in on that for an experience they will always have you to thank for. Whether it’s acting classes to amplify their theatre dreams, cooking classes to unleash a deep creative nature, music sessions for an instrument they dreamed of playing, or even a craft workshop that has them becoming the DIY master — lessons or classes stemming from personal passions will open them to new experiences. Moreover, it gives them a new set of skills and strengthens what makes them so inimitable.

Cruises and airline tickets
Perfect for families and friends who love to experience life together, giving the gift of a cruise or overseas trip is a fun way to strengthen bonds and indulge in a thrilling experience that is truly one of a kind. Instead of outgrowing items, they have beautiful moments spent with people they love. Additionally, if booked ahead of the new year and around the holidays, airline tickets sell for as low as 30 to 50 percent off. Thus, for the friend who dreamed of that Parisian vacation, present them with a surprise they will appreciate for years.

Tickets, passes and memberships
Have a friend who loves the arts scene? What about your partner’s love for sports? A great way to create enjoyable moments is to treat family and friends to annual memberships, whether they be museums, galleries and gyms; or season passes and tickets to sporting events, concerts and festivals. With endless possibilities that cater to every delight and season, it’s a great way to expand on the moment and make it a habit of fun throughout the year.

A planned weekend getaway
With endless destinations and the open road ahead, a weekend getaway for two or even a group of friends is an entertaining way to create an indelible experience. Not only will the exploration of a new town bring in a high dose of fun as you become a local, but finding the right accommodations, like a cozy inn or cabin with attractions and amenities that best cater individual needs is a great way to discover adventure and break the rut of ordinary with people you care about.

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Sporting equipment
While it might seem like you’re heading into tangible gift territory with this one, buying sports equipment for family and friends is an enjoyable way to create experiences from gifts that will swiftly accent activities. As an effective way to start something exciting, buying equipment from the likes of a pair of skis to ice skates, or even golf gear or a kayak for warmer months works to encourage individuals with an active lifestyle to try something new — especially if you promise to join them. Additionally, it’s particularly great for those wanting to spend more time with their best friends or partner as you see a ton more of each other.

Volunteer opportunities
Particularly during the holidays, volunteering is something everyone will be grateful for. Family and friends can accompany you to food banks or pantries, and serve those who need a little extra help this holiday season. Not only is the experience passed to those volunteering with you like kids who will further understand compassion and its role in our world, but it is also a greatly appreciated moment for those affected by broadening our involvement and experiences with one another.