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Experiences Over Things

December 19, 2018

There’s less than a week until Christmas!

Personally, I’m excited for our family trip down to Pennsylvania. It’s a long haul, but we often get to stop at Wegmans on the way. Plus I get to bring down a bunch of special beers to share with my brother-in-law. It doesn’t hurt that I can occasionally sleep in late, my father-in-law makes his famous pancakes, and the visit is fueled by locally made kielbasa and sauerkraut.

Although, now that I’ve discovered Euro Deli up in Latham, I can scratch the pork and cabbage itch anytime I feel like it. And with Joan at Field Notes making her own scrapple, I may have to take a deeper dive into Central Pennsylvanian culinary delights.

But for many people, these days before the holiday are filled with anxiety. I know this to be true because last night I popped into a Target around 9pm and it was packed. I also happened to pop into Colonie Center during the day, and the aggressive drivers were leaning on their horns, and traversing the parking lot like maniacs.

Be safe out there.

As a food blogger, people often look to me for advice on presents for the food lover on their list. And clearly people are starting to panic when it comes to getting those last few gifts as the clock continues to count down to December 25.

My suggestion may even help you avoid the heart attack from January’s credit card bill.

Ultimately, I think the best gifts are not things, but rather experiences. I’m going to use wine as an example, but this works for all food and beverage categories, and even into things like music and art.

The wine lover on your list doesn’t need a novelty wine glass, or socks that say “bring me wine”, or another book on their favorite subject. Consumables are always better, but even those aren’t the best. It may be touching and thoughtful for one’s non-wine loving family member to research and struggle to find a bottle they think you might enjoy. But not only is this stressful for the gift giver, it can also result in the dreaded “polite thank you” which isn’t great for anyone involved.

In this day and age, the one thing that is more valuable that consumer goods, is the time and attention of loved ones. Which isn’t to say there is nothing for you to buy. There is, and it’s not a gift card.

Gift cards have an unfortunate way of languishing unused. Recipients wait for the ideal moment, when using them would bring the most pleasure, only to find there’s never a day to make it happen. And either they will spend less money than the giver intended, or they will use the full value of the gift and have to kick in a little extra to cover the overage. Unless, of course, the gift card is simply for an everyday routine purchase. Starbucks gift cards are lovely and thoughtful for the Starbucks consumer on your list, if not particularly memorable or special.

Giving the gift of a shared experience is gifting gold.

For a wine lover, that could be something as simple as an outing to a wine bar for a flight of wines, it could be tickets to a wine tasting class, or —if you wanted to go large—seats at a wine dinner with paired glasses at each course. But the most meaningful thing would be for the gift giver to attend the experience with the recipient, to share in the thing the other loves.

Of course, that’s not always possible. People live in different states, and schedules can be challenging. However, there are always creative solutions. You can have a “wine date” across the country, or save the experience for the next time you are in the same town together. The two of you could steal away at some other family gathering to make it happen. That would certainly add another unforgettable layer to the outing.

Even better, you don’t have to spend a dime on it this week. All you need to do is print up your own “gift certificate” of intent. is great for that, by the way, and that too is totally free. Of course, you’ll need to pick up the tab and encourage the follow through. But then you get all of the fun of planning the outing together as well.

The idea is a little out there. But doing something like a cooking class together, or partaking in a communal meal at a local farm, or taking a Lyft out to a regional winery or brewery, is going to create an indelible memory that will last far longer than a pair of socks, or whatever electronic gizmo might be hot this year.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2018 5:44 pm

    Where are the links in this post? And I don’t mean the sausages at Euro Deli. P.S. That was a question.

  2. December 19, 2018 5:45 pm

    Where are the links n this post? And I don’t mean the sausages at Euro Deli. P.S. That was a question.

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