Collect Memories...Not Things
More and more we find ourselves, in this age of commercialism and capitalism, swept up in the gravitational pull of holiday gift giving -- giving Things and collecting Things. The giver needing to do better than last year and maybe thinking they need to give something big and/or expensive to make the receiver happy. The receiver perhaps expecting the same on the other end. It's all well-intentioned, but more often than not it leads to stress (this really should be a four-letter word!) There is too much stress in the world already, as well as too many Things. Yes, it can be fun buying and wrapping gifts, and just as exciting and delightful to open them. But the novelty of material gifts fades quickly, sometimes within hours. When we give the gift of an experience, we create memories -- this has priceless value and can last a lifetime. That's why my husband and I whenever possible give experiences instead. So far this year we've gifted an art class, a broadway show, season passes to a nearby ski mountain and a monthly subscription to a Tinker box filled with art and science and projects. I'm looking forward to taking my mother-in-law to the Downtown Abbey exhibition followed by high tea. (If you are reading this Christine, act surprised when you get your gift:)
There is always another gift-giving holiday right around the corner which means another opportunity to start collecting memories, not things. The next holiday coming up is Valentine's Day. This one is especially easy because you naturally want to give something that entails either spending time with your loved one and/or sharing something that reminds them of your love for them all throughout the year. To help you along, I've compiled a list of great experiences you can give someone you care about this Valentine's Day.
Giving experiences is meaningful and joyful -- to both the giver and the receiver. And because these experences are often local, it's also meaningful to merchants and organizations in your community. I have not received any monetary compensation from those on this list (except for #1 of course). They have been added to my list because I know them, believe in them and sometimes have been on the receiving end of these experience gifts. I hope these gift tips help you out and lead to joy.
1. Top of the list is my Sweet Earth Flower & Herb CSA for local peeps. Give yourself or someone you love the gift of flowers with this weekly subscription! The Sweet Earth Flower & Herb CSA is a great way to enjoy fresh, local, sustainably-grown flowers all season long. Gift certificates are available. Details at www.SweetEarthCo.com
2. Grow Happiness - For those that want to grow their own flowers, package up some seed packets along with a garden book, journal or calendar. You are gifting the opportunity to connect with nature and grow a miracle. Out of the Pacific Northwest, Floret Flowers offers a stunning variety of seeds and lovely packaging. Floret also offers a beautiful journal and calendar to add to your gift. Check out Floret at: www.FloretFlowers.com. If you are pressed for time you can also pick up seed packets at your local garden nursery. Copia Home & Garden has a great selection and great service. Support your local, independent bookstore and purchase a garden book to give with the seed packets. Booksy Galore in Pound Ridge is the little book store with a big heart (and a great selection of garden books!)
3. Learn Something New. There are so many great classes and workshops that let you try something new, improve a skill or expand upon a hobby. If your Valentine loves flowers and gardening there are numerous adult-education classes at The New York Botanical Garden. I'll be teaching a Seed Starting Primer class in April at NYBG. Check out A Taste of Westchester's culinary classes. These are great because they offer intruction from chefs at various local restaurants plus you get to eat a great meal! I'm also super excited about all the workshops offered online at Masterclass.com. I've been dropping some hints at home about the Annie Liebovitz Masterclass in Photography.
4. Mindful Meditation. I'm relatively new to meditation but I'm happy I've given it a try and I know it will be a lifelong practice for me. My friend Erika turned me on to meditation via the non-profit group she helped found called The Community Mindfullness Project (CMP). In one of their recent emails, CMP notes that when our body and are mind are connected "we are paying attention in the present moment to our embodied experience we are not fighting what is, grasping at what may be, or wishing to change what has been. We just are, and in those moments, we can feel whole and complete." Meditation has helped me be mindful and present with a focused mind and open heart. CMP offers weekly meditation sessions at local Connecticut libraries and at Soma Yoga in New Canaan. I usually attend the evening session at Soma Yoga because I love the heated floors! Check out their schedule at https://www.communitymindfulnessproject.org/. Gift a session to your sweetheart, or better yet go to one together.
5. For the Romantic in You. Let your sweetheart know you would marry her all over again with a Wedding Bouquet Gift Voucher from Abby Miller Fine Art. It is a unique and thoughtful way to memorialize that magical day. Here's how it works: the gift voucher provides the gift recipient with a specific coupon code to order a custom commission from the website. Abby will then contact them and request photos of their bouquet so she can draw an accurate respresentation of their bouquet. Abby is such a talented artist. Check out her website www.AbbyMillerFineArt.com for this gift voucher and her portfolio.
6. An Egg-celent Idea. Have you and your sweetheart entertained having chickens of your own but you want to learn more before diving in? Or, definitely want to keep chickens but don't have the space for it? Or do you both just enjoy farm fresh eggs and want to have a hand in sourcing your own? The Intergenerate Egg Co-op is an amazing experience I have been fortunate to be a part of for the last 7 years (wow, I can't believe it's been that long!). I wanted to get a sense of the responsibility involved and learn first-hand how to care for chickens before making the investment at home. Well, I loved it and stayed with the Co-op long after getting my own chickens. The Co-op keeps its chickens at the bucolic John Jay Homestead in Katonah, NY. The Co-op comprises about 20 families/members who share in the daily care of more than 40 chickens and share in the weekly egg harvest. Learn all about chickens, enjoy nutritious eggs, and join a really fun group of folks who enjoy sourcing their own food and practicing sustainable farming methods. Annual membership is $250, not much when you think about all it offers -- quality, outdoor time with your family, connecting with nature, supporting sustainability in your community, and the most amazing fresh eggs! For more details and to sign up, visit this link Intergenerate Egg Co-Op.