I’m not much of a consumer, so the holidays present a bit of a challenge. I’ve taken to giving experiences. What does that mean?

Last year I hosted a tasting party of selected cheeses, pairings of olives, various breads, dried and fresh fruits. I learned about the 10 cheeses (ranging from a Tibetan yak to drunken goat), and mixed and matched selections during a three-hour epic feast while I lectured and presented what I had learned. This combined with what I know about each family member, and paying attention to their comments during the tasting helped me to prepare unique nibbles so that each person in the room had a different experience. At the end we summed up and recommended items to each other. 

This year I pledged to make a gift stocking for a client of Services for the Underserved. My boyfriend heard me going on about the effort and pledged too. Soon my son, mom, brother, dad all got on board. A bunch of us got together to make a pattern, pin and cut fabric, sew, and then decorate the stockings. While I sustained a hot glue injury, it was an especially fun Sunday evening with my family. Not only were we giving to the clients of the charity, but we were giving each other the gift of our company. 

What meaningful gifts can we give this year? Some easy things to give every day are extra greetings, smiles, gratitude, and patience – even to strangers. They’re easy to receive too. Maybe the gift of time spent together can take on a new life when shaped by a common purpose – writing notes to far away loved ones, cooking a meal, or sharing an activity to help others. 

Be well and give of yourself.