No More Stuff – Give Experiences

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Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! I canít stand it!

Iím writing this on the Friday after Thanksgiving — you know, THAT Friday — the one when everyone pulls out their credit cards, packs the parking lot at the malls, and determines the state of our economy based on how much we spend. Donít get me wrong. I love the holiday season and the fact that today heralds its official beginning (although there were Christmas decorations in our drug store long before Halloween this year. WTF?).

But why does it have to be about the stuff?

It feels like every year it gets worse. Or maybe Iím just getting increasingly sensitive to it.

My mother, who loves Christmas and is incredibly generous when it comes to holiday gift-giving, just asked me for my familyís wish list. What do we want for Christmas this year? I found myself feeling resistant. I didnít want to send her an ďI wantĒ list this year. Sure, I could use a new camera since mine is a piece of crap and I use photography in Owning Pink all the time. Yeah, a Flip cam would be nice too. And that pair of Manolo Blahniks Iíve drooled over but would never buy for myself. And I sure would like to get the new Taylor Swift album. But I didnít put any of that stuff on my Christmas wish list this year.

No. I donít want to contribute to the commercialism madness this season. So I asked for what I really desire — experiences. I desire a day at the Sonoma Mission Inn with my mom, where we can soak in the natural mineral springs and get massages and talk about what matters and paint our nails in girl-bonding style. I want to go kayaking in the bay in Inverness with my family, to paddle over to the Marshall General Store for fresh Dungeness crab and oysters just yanked out of the bay. I would love to spend a night in Yosemite at the Ahwahnee Hotel when itís all decorated for the holidays and thereís snow around Half Dome. I long to have a romantic getaway with my husband to the Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma, where we can snuggle up in our room with the sauna and Jacuzzi tub and make símores in front of the fireplace.

Yes, all of these experiences cost money, and yes, asking my mother for them will help boost the economy. But at the end of it all, Iíll have memories, rather than more stuff cluttering up my life.

If Mom was on a limited budget, I could have asked for equally valuable experiences that cost nothing — a day of babysitting so my hubby and I can hike the Dipsea Trail from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach; a picnic lunch packed neatly in a basket so we can take it to Point Reyes National Seashore and eat it while listening to the roar of the elephant seals and the pounding of the surf; a day of being the designated driver so both hubby and I can go wine tasting in Sonoma County; a scrapbook we make together to document our lives. Give me these experiences over a pair of Manolo Blahniks any dayÖ

Will You Commit To Giving Experiences, Rather Than Stuff This Holiday?

What if, this year, we all commit to giving experiences rather than just objects? Why not take your daughter to a make-your-own-pottery studio rather than buying her the latest plastic Disney/Barbie/Hello Kitty whatever-the-marketing-executives-have-dreamed-up-to-separate-you-from-your-money? What if you give your spouse a night of passionate love-making under the stars in a tent by the ocean? What if you give your mother a night at the theater or a day of ice skating in Rockefeller Center? Isnít that more valuable than another pair of gold earrings?

Sure, buy things if you must — but tie them to an experience. If you get the new Taylor Swift album, have a dance party with your kids while listening to it. Get decked out, buy a disco ball, and go to town. If you feel inspired (as many of you have graciously said you do) to buy my book Whatís Up Down There? for your BFFís, make sure you schedule a book club so you can dish about your first orgasm, your pet names for your va jay jay, and whether youíve ever vajazzled. (Now thatís an experience you wonít soon forget). If you buy a Flip cam, schedule time with your grandma so you can interview her on video about all she has learned and what she wants her legacy to be about. Now thatís what Iím talking about. Make your gifts matter.

Iím gonna do it.

No stuff this holiday season, unless itís tied to an experience. I will give my daughter adventures. I will give my husband memories. I will give my best friend time.

What about you? Are you fed up with the commercialism? Can you give up the stuff this holiday season? Tell us what you think.

Related:
25 Easy Homemade Gift Ideas
Less Stuff, More Happiness
10 Stop-Shopping Tips

60 comments

LMj Sunshine

Good article, thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Good article, thank you.

Holly C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you - just wish more people realized material items are just anchors. It's quality time and memories that enrich families and friends.

Michele Mccrea
Michele Mccrea5 years ago

Yes! Somebody else gets it! My children do not remember the toys they got for christmas that are lost or broken by now....but the remember the time we went for a walk and saw the most beautiful butterfly. If that doesn't say it all!

April Gray
April Gray5 years ago

sounds wonderful!!! here's another idea: i live in california, & a good friend lives in texas. we talk on skype every day, & we do "storytime" by taking turns picking a book or story & reading to each other. this could easily work with grandchildren, nieces & nephews, etc. reading aloud to someone or being read to is a great way to connect & share :)

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

Great article. Thanx

Angelica P.
Angelica P.5 years ago

Loved the article! I feel this way too. It should not be about THINGS or STUFF. It should be about FAMILY.

Kha Bliss
Past Member 5 years ago

So true I really agree!

Ioana Cristina S.

I agree. The most beautiful Christmas gift is spending valuable time with friends and family. I would love to get together with friends who live far away. I'm glad that email makes it possible to keep in touch when getting together is too difficult. No material gift can replace wonderful times spent with real friends.

Miranda M.
Miranda M.5 years ago

I agree totally! Advertising is one of the biggest lies--and who are they to tell me I need to spend my hard-earned money on unwanted junk for people who are just going to take it back to the store! Somewhere along the way, capitalism took over Christmas and the whole message was obscured to fit the wants of corporations