Here's your guide to giving the best gifts ever

Give the gift that gives forever by giving a memorable experience.

’Tis the season to be giving! And the stress of what to buy sets in. You want to give somethingthoughtful, meaningful, memorable…right? Game on!

So, now you’re hunting for the perfectly-packaged present for your nearest and dearest and can’t find anything that makes your heart flutter. Before you toss the thought of getting everyone gift cards, consider the possibilities they offer.

Studies conducted by the University of Toronto (U of T) have shown that “it’s better to give an experience than a thing.” Which makes sense. When you reminisce about holidays past, do you think of only the gifts you were given, or do you remember the moments more? The laughs at the table? The mishaps in the kitchen? These experiences create memories that will last you a lifetime.

Cindy Chan, a research assistant at U of T, says, “An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it—like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa—and is more intensely emotional than a material possession.”

So, why not forgo the idea of offering the best boxed gift and give an experiential present instead?

Here are just a few things to consider if you want to give your loved ones a memorable gift that keeps on giving for the holidays:

Figure out what they love

Think about what makes them tick. What are they most passionate about? What lights them up from the inside out with a mere mention?

Movie buffs will love prepaid admission to the season’s biggest blockbuster. Dad loves his team? Get him to the next big game! Get the concertgoer tickets to their favorite artist on tour. Aspiring chefs will revel in an Italian cooking class. And even your craftiest cousin could learn a few new tricks from a workshop at the local community center.

Those who’d rather give than receive will jump at any volunteering opportunity you sign them up for. So, don’t be shy.  

These are just some of the basics. Prepack a picnic for a friend and send them away with an already prepared Parisian-inspired afternoon.

Help a coworker go beast mode with joint enrollments to the next obstacle course race near you. Or just give mom a good excuse to check out some local theater.

You don’t even have to get a specific experience. Grant your BFF’s biggest wish with a babysitter for the weekend. And prepaid credit cards with heartfelt notes will awaken the holiday spirit in anyone. All you have to do is provide a little info as to why you think they deserve it, and give some guidance on where and when they should use it. Your forethought and preparation for their next favorite day or night is sure to shine, and this special occasion—whatever it may be—was made possible by this very special present.

Put a bow on It

Delivery can be everything when it comes to this gift. So, go the extra mile.

A gift card might be small in physical size, but you’re offering a lot more than a card in an envelope. You’re giving them their next big night out. The ability to make their new favorite dish. The opportunity to see their team’s biggest play of the season…in person!

Add some flair to your packaging. Use glitter. Hire a singing telegram. Make it look like the big deal it is!

Kick it up a notch

Once you have what they love in mind, feel free to throw in some sleigh bells and whistles.

Include enough for snacks and drinks during the movie, and you’ve set your single brother up on a fantastic date night. Or you’ve given your niece a night out with her BFF that she’s sure to LOL about at her next slumber party.  

That music lover will probably shed a few tears over VIP or soundcheck access. Dad will never forget the time you gave him box seats. And the mission trip you helped fund for your friend who only wants to give will forever be ingrained in the hearts of everyone involved.

Think beyond the thing

When you want your gift to be more than a tangible item, just think beyond the thing. There’s no better gift than memories that will last a lifetime, and no one knows your people like you, so your options are endless.

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