Walking around my local town centre today it was clear that the 1st of December means no holding back on the 'buy,buy,buy' Christmas advertising campaigns. There was a freezing mist in the air and people were loading their baskets with special offers on perfume sets, boxes of 'smellies', woolly gloves and 1/2 price recipe books.
All this started me thinking about all the things I got for Christmas last year and when the kids (who are 6 & 7) got home from school I asked them about their memories of last Christmas. I don't really remember what I was given (except for the PT sessions I asked for from my parents!) and neither did the kids.
So what did we remember? The adventures, experiences, the time we had spent together. I remember my partner taking me ice skating and drinking mulled wine surrounded by beautiful Christmas lights, and going to the kids Christmas performances at school and how excited they had been. They remember going for breakfast with Santa and to the 'build-a-bear workshop' with their cousin, then taking their new teddy bears to the pantomime. Walking into town with the family all wearing Christmas hats and going for dinner.
What do you remember from last Christmas? Which gifts do you remember?
It seems such a waste to me that we work so hard to earn money to then spend it and our precious time on gifts for people we care about that things that are so relatively unimportant to them that less than a year later they don't remember what they were.
So what can we give instead?
- Well, when it comes to giving things - either be observant with your loved ones and listen to thinks they say that would be useful to them or that they would like, or if you just aren't observant or don't have the time then ASK them.
- Give an experience - tickets to the theatre, a day out, book a class or afternoon tea.
- Give your time - make your own vouchers for something personal - babysitting for your best friends so she can go for dinner with her hubby, an afternoon at the beach? whatever is personal to you - if you are extremely busy in your life, giving someone quality time can be the most precious gift.
- Something personalised, a piece of jewellery - working as a stylist for Stella & Dot I love their bespoke range - a necklace or bracelet with a special date, or coordinates of location that holds treasured memories.
- On the same line a photo book or movie of an adventure you have had with the person recieving the gift helps to remind them of that time.
- Donate to the persons favorite charity - sponsor a polar bear or buy meals for a child living in poverty.
- Lastly - this is a bit of a wild card, if you know the person well enough something like paying for PT sessions, or a cleaner for a couple of months, life coaching sessions, meditation classes or even a decluttering session! These sorts of gifts could make their year, or possibly end the friendship so be sure - if they have talked about it being something they would like but would never spend the money on themselves it could be the best present ever.
These are just a few idea outside of the generic high street gifts, I'd love to hear what unusal ideas you have come up with for your loved ones.
So before you spend your hard earn cash on things for the people you love just because you need to buy them something, take a moment to think if they might prefer your time, or an adventure... and if you want to recieve thing that you will remember this time next year then make a list of what you would like and share it!