You know those slightly annoying people who love the holidays? Like over the top, Will Ferrell in Elf, kind of love? That’s totally me. I started planning my tree in October, I’ve been editing my holiday playlist since last year, and I’ve been jonesing to break out my spiced cider candles since May.
While there is a lot I love about the holidays, I have a special fondness for giving gifts. Gift giving is a love language for me. I pride myself on thoughtful, personalized gifts, searching near and far for the perfect thing. I love remembering things friends have said or done throughout the year, providing the tiniest hints about what they might enjoy. Gift giving is an art form for me. It brings me joy. It’s my jam.
But this year, I made a decision. I decided to give up a beloved holiday tradition.
I stopped exchanging gifts with my very best friend.
So why the change?
Over the last several years, my best friend and I developed a holiday tradition. We have dinner at our favorite little Filipino spot in the city, followed by drinks out somewhere fun and cozy. It started four years ago, and we loved it so much, that we made it an official holiday tradition.
No matter how busy our calendars get, we make a point to set aside at least one night for this tradition. The first several years, we exchanged gifts with one another over dinner, hugging as we opened packages. But this year, we decided to do things differently. No gifts. No presents.
Our gift to one another was the experience. The dinner, the laughter, and the conversation. We gave one another our time and our undivided attention.
We gave up a longstanding holiday tradition to start one of our own. Turns out, it’s even better than I imagined.
This idea of rethinking gift giving isn’t just anecdotal. Research has a lot to say on the value of experiences versus things. Just think, in five years will you still have that candle they gave you? Will you still love that framed piece of art? Odds are low. But in ten years, will you have that memory of being huddled around that corner table, laughing till your stomach hurts?
Would you consider sharing an experience instead of giving a gift? Give it a try this holiday season; see what you notice!
PS: Looking for more ways to savor the season? Check out this post: 7 Ways to Beat Stress and Keep Your Sanity This Holiday Season.