The holidays are always a happy time for everyone, but also a really stressful time when it comes to being able to afford gifts and holiday get togethers. Many people worry about going into debt just to be able to buy and give gifts. According to a CIBC poll in 2017, the average Canadian will spend about $700 on gifts and will use credit cards to purchase instead of cash or debit. While most people enjoy giving gifts, nearly half of the respondents said they feel obligated to give presents.
In the past, I use to shop specifically on Black Friday in order to get the best deals and save money on buyng gifts for all the kids that I planned to give gifts to, but that has changed. The past few years I have viewed "things" in a very different way of course, and I value experiences much more than having another item enter my home. Our homes are already filled with so many things and kids own so many toys and games that they don't even play with. I think more about what I am buying and if it will bring any value or joy to someone when I gift something to someone.
So I wanted to really come up with other ideas of gifts to give that were obviously experience gifts instead of things. However, I also realize that some experience gifts are not always affordable and sometimes "things" are more affordable to give, but if I am going to give "things" I make sure that they are consumable and temporary items as much as possible.
Here's a list of my tips and gift ideas to be more mindful (and minimalist) during the holiday season:
3. Special events and shows. My Dad use to take me to see a musical when there was a good show playing in town, and sometimes these were birthday gifts... but why not a gift for Christmas! I really remembered these moments with my Dad and I think its so important to introduce music, arts and culture to kids to open their minds and a life of creativity. Why not give a ticket to concerts, music festivals, or even sporting events that are great for the sports fan.
4. Memberships. Give the gift of an annual gift to the museum, art gallery, science centre or even the zoo, with access to special exhibits included. These memberships are great for an entire family to enjoy for a whole year and you definitely get your money's worth if you go more than 2x a year. I usually visit the museum during March break, summer holidays and even Christmas holidays, so I can imagine that other people do as well and memberships would be really useful.
5. Single passes to attractions. This is a great gift idea for your friends kids or even extended relatives. Why not give a single or a couple passes to the movies, zoo, aquarium, museum, art gallery, etc. if memberships are out of the budget.
6. Activities. There are lots of activities out there that people can enjoy from bowling, arcade/video game venues, lazer tag, escape rooms, cat cafes (if your city has one, usually there is a fee to enter), axe throwing, photo walks, rock climbing, the list goes on and I'm pretty sure they all offer gift certificates.
7. Consumable gifts. There are so many gift options in this category, from chocolates, baked goods, wine, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, candles, etc. These gifts only temporarily live in the home which is great.
9. Food & Drink Experiences. Enjoy options from wine or beer tastings, local food tours, beer crawls, high tea, cheese tastings, beer festivals, food & wine events, and there are so many Airbnb experiences (they don't just offer accommodations, locals offer experiences too!) to also choose from.
Overall I think what people should give more of is their presence than an actual present, since time is what people don't always give much of...but this may only work with adults and not so much what children want. Also donating to those in need will really make the holiday season more meaningful when you can make someone feel good about celebrating this time of the year.
Hopefully these options will help make your holidays filled with more experiences to enjoy rather than things that will create clutter and unwanted things. Be mindful of your spending and don't be afraid to let people know if you are not able to participate in gift giving or any celebrations if it does not fit into your time or budget. As life gets more and more expensive, its better to make life easier during the most major consumer holiday and change what this season has been about for so many years. The holidays should be a joyful season, and not a time to go into debt and be stressed out...it's just not worth it. Happy holidays to you all!