With Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to share a great gift idea, courtsey of my mom. (PS: I realize many of you will reread that last sentence and wonder if I have lost my mind. I assure you, I have not, though I am one of those Christmas crazies who begins to prepare for the holiday season months in advance. Naturally, this includes getting my gift list in order well before December 1st.)
As much as I love gifting pretty things and goodies, I really love giving people the gift of experience. Research shows that people often forget the things in life, but they remember the experiences. And because I really want my gifts to be memorable, I try to think of ways I can help my loved ones experience something special. This gift motto is in no way my own, in fact, I grew up with the idea thanks to my mom, one of the ultimate gift givers. She has always made even the tiniest of moments special with her thoughtful and creative gift giving. She has long gifted our family experiences, and this past spring, she gifted Matt and I with a great experience. She asked us to choose any museum or attraction in the Chicagoland area to which we would like a membership, and the membership was on her.
We love this gift for several reasons. One, it allows us to experience our beloved city more intimately. Two, it allows Matt and I to experience something together. And three, it is a gift that keeps on giving, all year around. Our first year here in Chicago, we chose the Shedd Aquarium, and this year, we chose the Brookfield Zoo. This zoo has been a great choice for us, because when we find ourselves with a free Saturday or Sunday with not much to do, we hop in the car and head on over. The parking and admission is all covered thanks to my parent's gift, and we are able to enjoy an afternoon without worrying about our wallets. This also means that we are able to wander as we please, not feeling pressured to "see it all" or cram in a full day.
So for those loved ones on your list, think about giving the gift of experience. Whether its for an upcoming holiday or birthday, a cross country move, or a special achievement, think of celebrating with a gift that keeps on giving all year long. It might be a museum membership, a park season pass, tickets to a show, or a gift certificate to a special restaurant. The possibilities to create an experience are endless, as are the memories.
And in celebration of this idea, here is a recent trip Matt and I took to the zoo, courtesy of my parents and their gift of experience...
We got up early on the first cool day of the season and were so lucky to see so many of the animals up and active. The cats are almost always snoozing, but the zookeeper said because of the cool weather, the animals were unusually alert and active. We spent almost an hour with the big cats; they were amazing!
Well hey there guys :)
We got an up close and personal view of this big guy, and just after I snapped this picture, he and I had a ten second stare down! It was one of the coolest moments I've ever had at a zoo, and Matt and I talked about it the rest of the afternoon. Super cool, especially for a zoo nerd like me :)
We timed our visit just right and were able to see several "zookeeper chats," which often involve feedings and tricks. The polar bear chat was particularly awesome, as we got to witness all sorts of cool tricks, including a splash-making dive for an oversized piece of meat. (You can see him getting ready in the shot on the right.)
Who knew polar bears were so huge?!
The day was really fun and a great reminder of just how special the gift of experience. So I'm curious, have you ever been given the gift of experience? Who on your list would love the gift of experience?