December 30, 2008
Talking to friends lately, I feel like everyone I know is having a similar urge to simplify. Especially around the holidays, most people want to spend less time and money shopping, and have more time for meaningful experiences with their family and friends. I've had many conversations with people who feel like they spent more than they could afford, and for things they weren't even sure the recipient was going to like or appreciate. This is especially true in large extended families. More of them are talking about picking names so that you only buy for one person, but some family members are resistant to the idea. I'm also finding that a lot of people prefer an outing or an experience to receiving more stuff, which most of us just don't need. About five years ago I told my mom I was taking her to lunch in San Juan Capistrano, which is halfway between where I live and where she lives, and enclosed a train ticket in the card. That outing was a big success and so since then my brothers and I have tried to buy my parents experiences rather than things. We've taken them to concerts or given them tickets, sent them for dance lessons, and my brother even got my mom out for a bike ride on the beach. These gifts have been more rewarding for all of us than one more thing to gather dust in the house. I'm sure many families would have a similar experience.