Experiential Giving by Robin Trimingham

Experiential Giving by Robin Trimingham

I received an email this morning that has inspired me to write a post regarding the importance of balancing experiential value of a gift against the “thing” itself when choosing gifts this holiday season.

As regular readers will know, my father is about to be 87 and although he still lives independently and enjoys a full life, suffice it to say he has just about everything he will ever need, but he is always interested in new, useful or unique experiences. He is also not necessarily keen on surprises so discussing what he will be getting has become an experience he openly welcomes and knowing that he will be receiving something he will like gives him something to look forward to as well.

This year we settled on a weekend subscription to the national newspaper where he lives (which he will enjoy reading every weekend – strategically saving half of the Saturday paper to read on Sunday mornings), and a pair of tickets to see the local NHL farm team play in mid-January. For those of you who don’t know, the National Hockey League operates a couple of “minor league” teams to train aspiring professional hockey players and my dad was actually as excited as a nine-year-old boy by the idea of seeing them in person and by having someone (aka me) to take him to the game.

It just goes to show that with a little effort, the thought and the experience can easily mean as much, if not more than the gift itself.

So what do you give the person who has everything if you are on a tight budget? I suggest you find a way to give them your time.

Make a booklet of activities and services that you can provide throughout the year such as: car washing, Sunday outings in the car, cooking dinner, doing yard work, going fishing together or cleaning the house.

Looking for something a wee bit less physical to give a younger person? How about making a booklet of tickets offering to teach them a skill (like cooking or piano lessons) or learning how to do something new together by watching YouTube or reading books together or watching movies. Wrap it up in a box with some popcorn and cocoa and you will be giving them experiences to look forward well into the spring.

Looking for something around the house to “upcycle” into a gift? How about that big box of family photos you never had time to sort through? Get some picture frames or photo albums at the dollar store and give everyone a family photo from days gone by with a note explaining what the event was and who is in the photo. Or frame baby photos of older family members and make everyone guess who is in the photo – bring small prizes for the best or funniest answers.

At its core the holiday season is most wonderful because it gives us the excuse to briefly put our lives on hold and spend time with people we care about – if we use the time to make new memories instead of just unwrapping stuff it can become a season we look forward to for years to come.

By Robin Trimingham

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