I have always put a lot of thought into my gift giving. I have a process. I start an Amazon Wish List weeks after the previous holiday is over. Yeah, I’m a little crazy. I assess, add and subtract as needed and hopefully by the next year, I have a pretty solid inventory of presents for each family member. I despise waste and clutter so I try really hard to buy things that I know each person will use and love. Some gifts fail, but for the most part, I pride myself on knowing the recipients better than they know themselves, and most of the time, it works out.
My children, who are now 8 and 9, have received ridiculous amounts of toys, games and puzzles over the years. When they were small, this was unavoidable. We bought things that would help them learn and develop hand eye coordination, toys to bring out their creativity and teach them to read or write. There were gifts that developed math and science skills, music and mechanics. They got stuffed animals, oh, did they get stuffed animals, as well as dolls, balls and anything that develops the imagination. A quarter of our living room was christened the designated play area when they were very small. About 6 years and one move later, their plethora of playthings grew, and now encompassed the entire basement. The situation was out of control. Most of the toys they had, were played with once and never looked at again. Now that they are a bit older, I knew there had to be a better way. I decided that the best gift is travel. Don’t get me wrong, they still receive a select few special toys and books, but experiences are worth a thousand stuffed animals. I know, because we have that many.
There is nothing more amazing than discovering new things with the people you love. Whether it is just a quick overnight or a week-long excursion, they will appreciate the quality time with you. Believe it or not, your family doesn’t care about material objects, they care about you. Your children, your significant other, your spouse, your parents, they just want your full attention without the distraction of phones, work or the stress of daily life getting in the way. They want to get lost with you, talk, laugh and discover with you. Make memories together, take pictures, act silly, go on excursions, lay on a beach and eat amazing food! They will soak up this time and talk about it for years to come.
Discover New Places and Cultures
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”. -Mark Twain
I love learning about different cultures, immersing myself in the language, cuisine, and everyday life of the surrounding people. When you travel to a foreign country or even a different state there is so much to learn about the local lifestyle. Get a taste of how people live by heading off the beaten path (safely, of course!) and explore neighborhoods and take in the architecture. Check out museums and cathedrals. Be sure to do a little research on local cuisine and find the best restaurants for the area’s delicacies. Whether they are known for tater tots or tartar, it is worth finding out the top places to get it. The regional history will educate you on traditions and their way of life, so read up and share your new-found knowledge with your fellow travelers. If you travel to a foreign country, try to learn a bit of the language and currency. The locals will appreciate your effort! By doing these things, you will have a better understanding of your surroundings and the people which will help you to be a more open minded and tolerant human being. That is a gift well worth giving.
It Doesn’t Have To Cost a Lot
Don’t think that this gift has to put you in debt! You do not have to take a loan out with the bank or sell your personal possessions on EBay to make this happen. Just go for an overnight or a weekend. When the kids were little, we sometimes used credit card points to stay at the local hotel just so we could use the pool during the freezing New York winter. Sounds silly, I know, but the kids still have vague memories if these adventures and all we paid for was dinner. Borrow someone’s tent and go camping for a night or visit a family member that you haven’t seen in a while. There are so many ways to travel that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Summing It Up
If you need some extra help to plan the ultimate travel experience, be sure to check out this article on The Best Website for Flight Deals. It will not only give your good prices on flights, but also help you plan the entire trip from figuring out a destination to booking a hotel. Maybe you want to accessorize your trip. If so, don’t miss the post on Gifts for the Frequent Traveler for everything from travel scarves to weekenders. Make this holiday season the best one yet, give your loved ones memories that will last a lifetime and best of all, your undivided attention.