Giving a truly memorable gift is not as easy as it seems.
Ask anyone what the most unforgettable moment of their life was and most will say their wedding day or when their child was born - not when they were gifted a new TV or a set of kitchen knives. Material possessions are important to us, but not as important as the experiences and moments that change our lives for the better.
Save yourself (and your gift-ees) from the impersonal gift card cop-out and give those on your list something that will last a lifetime: an experience gift. Giving an experience gift is similar to giving a friend something off of their bucket list. It's a way to give them an experience that they will never forget, rather than material items that will eventually become worn or forgotten in a dusty corner of the closet (fuzzy slipper socks, anyone?). The opportunities are endless for experience gifts. They can range from NASCAR driving classes to an out-of-the-way trip to a restaurant a friend has been dying to try. Not to mention, you have the opportunity to do the activity together, making the gift interactive and personal.
For even the biggest challenge on your list, there is an experience gift that is sure to make an impact on their lives and show them that you care.
The "has everything" husband: What do you get the man who seems to have everything? Think of movies/ television shows that keep him glued to his favorite chair. If he's a "Top Gun" fan, try enrolling him in a Fighter Pilot for a Day experience. If he loves "Man vs. Wild," look for wilderness survival classes. Chances are, if he likes to watch, he'll love to try it for himself.
Couples' fun: Not all experience gifts need to be a thrill. A thoughtful gesture like offering to babysit for friends while they enjoy a much needed date night will be just as appreciated. Buy the couple "anytime tickets" from Chattanooga Theatre Centre, giving them an opportunity to choose the performance and date for their night on the town. Other child-oriented experience gifts could be a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum or to Coolidge Park for a family picnic.
For the kids: Children are probably the most gracious receivers of the experience gift because many of them love to go to new places and try new things. Options like ballet or art classes are a gift that just keeps on giving for both the child and their parents. Not only do the kids get to learn something new, but the family can get together for the art show or recital once the classes have finished.
Cross-country cousins: Just because they live far away doesn't mean they should be forgotten when it comes to birthdays and holidays. Cloud9living.com provides a search engine with more than a thousand experience gifts all over the country. Find something you feel your family will enjoy or purchase a gift certificate and let them decide the thrill for themselves!
For the ladies: Many women's lives fall into the category of too much to do and too little time to do it, which leaves pampering themselves pretty low on the "To Do" list. Give the woman in your life a minivacation with a trip to a local spa like In the Buff Day Spa and Salon for a total-body treatment. Children can also give her a little break by offering to do her least favorite household chore for a month.
Too-cool teens: Maybe the circa-1960 lava lamp seems like a good gift idea, but your teen may not agree with you. Instead of feeling out of the loop, pay attention to which artists dominate their iPod and look for upcoming concerts in the area. Track 29, a local music venue, is a good resource for cool concerts without the inconvenience of travel.