More Memories, Less Things
The headlines read,” Christmas shopping needs to happen now!” And our, “Christmas gifts are all sitting on container ships undelivered.”
You know what’s not sitting on a container ship or subject to supply chain woes? Experiences. Making memories and spending more time with our loved ones is what gift giving and the holidays is all about. But sometimes, that can mean that we are left with wrapping only a gift card. Instead, of just the gift card, which, let’s be honest, is a bit of a letdown for the receiver, what about adding something useful and emblematic of the future experience. It could be a small item that you purchase, but it also could be a hand-drawn map of the route you plan to take together, a personalized computer-generated invitation, or a hand-made card with a drawing that is emblematic of your future experience. Gifting experiences is all about getting creative and really considering the person to whom you are giving.
Beer, Wine, and/or Spirits Tour
Make your own. Locally made spirits and craft brews can be top-notch. In most areas we are all less than an hour’s drive from several different distilleries, wineries, and/or breweries which haven’t yet made the big times or have chosen to remain excellent but small. Make a day of it. Pack a lunch. Or plan a dinner out to top off the day.
To Wrap: A couple of specialty glasses to go with the alcohol of your choice. A hand drawn map of the route you think might be best highlighting the places you’d like to explore.
Many communities have continuing education classes including cooking…..There are so many chefs out there who are willing to share their extensive knowledge of their craft and it’s quite possible that their income has been disrupted by the pandemic. Join a class already established, or create your own. Find a local chef who’s written a cookbook or two, has a specialty, or one that you just love. Ask if they’d be willing to teach a private, in-home class for you and/or your family. The size of this gathering matters, so keep it manageable at 10 to 12 people at the most.
To Wrap: A locally made apron or wooden cookbook holder. Perhaps a chef’s knife or a handmade cutting board. Include a hand-drafted invitation to the class with date TBD
Farm Visit Focused on the Season or an Ingredient
There are so many locally grown and raised products near most of us that the trick might be in choosing the food of focus rather than finding a place to go! Perhaps your loved one is a cheese addict, or adores lamb, or wants to sample an array of local honey. Or maybe they love pumpkins in the autumn or lambing season in the spring. Use their love a specific ingredient to create either one special visit or perhaps a local tour of several places focused on one bespoke food.
To Wrap: Perhaps a little tea towel with a graphic connected to your themed visit or a map highlighting the destination. Plan a meal around your trip – maybe a roadside dinner, farm stand, or a picnic.
Handmade Kitchen Tools
Find a local wooden spoon maker, cutting board creator, or knife forger. See if they’d be willing to give you a private tour of their shop or if they offer public tours at certain time of the year. Any artist will tell you that having a few, well-made tools is better than having a multitude of tools which are subpar.
To Wrap: Purchase the tool itself to wrap for the day of opening or wait until you are on site to make the actual purchase. If you plan to wait, wrap something small from the creator, or maybe some bees wax to condition a wooden spoon or a knife sharpener.
Plan a night in with your special someone or create a ladies/men’s night with close friends. Focus on a favorite food or dish or a themed meal.
To Wrap: Gather some of those special ingredients ahead of time, for example, if you’ve created a paella night, purchase the pan, the rice, or the saffron ahead of time and have those be what gets wrapped.
Not only do most of us have fabulous local creators near us, we can love equally a creator from farther away. My mom and dad have everything they need and then some, so purchasing another thing for them is just silly. They don’t need or want for anything, but they do love good food. So for several years in a row, my husband and I have purchased a cheese and/or wine subscription from different well-known small farms in both our area and outside of our state. This works perfectly, as my parents do not live close. We’d need to mail a gift to them in any case. Another idea is a monthly bouquet from a local farm. There are some farms that will do wreaths and seasonal décor, even when the flowers are no longer in bloom.
To Wrap: A set of cheese knifes, a special cork screw, some specialty crackers, or a vase to go with the subscription of choice.
Plan a hike, kayak, sail, or beach walk complete with either a packed lunch or a food destination.
To Wrap: Depending on the time of year, wrap a knitted hat, picnic basket, or something that will be used during the planned event.
Make it a Destination
There are so many wonderful restaurants that have created more year round seating by adding enclosures, blankets, or heating elements.
To Wrap: Maybe the menu from the restaurant of choice and some flowers?
Watch In Movie Night with Take Out Dinner
Whether you are a fan of black and white classics or modern day thrillers, movie night is either an old friend or a comfortable classic. But just because we’ve had our share of dine-in movie nights over the past 2 years doesn’t mean that it can’t be wonderful. But it’s not just the lazy way out. Plan a little, pay attention to the details, set the table, use cloth napkins, light a candle, put some favorite music on and make it an experience, not just a fall-back for when there’s nothing else to do.
To Wrap: A movie poster, menu of the local take-out, a jar of popcorn (I’m an old-fashioned girl and like to make mine on the stove.), and/or a take out box with the gift card to the restaurant inside.
Around the Fire:
The recent past has many of us gathering around our grills and fire pits, simply enjoying our yards more than ever. Think about extra seating, a smoker, or a grill accessory which will add to that experience.
To Wrap: Let’s say a set of Adirondack chairs is on order for the spring, make a miniature set out of popsicle sticks to wrap. If it’s a smoker, maybe a homemade spice rub or a locally made barbeque sauce.