Pete and I discovered pretty early on in our relationship that we have something in common when it comes to any holiday: we both prefer experiences over gifts. We have a small home and can both buy whatever we want/need ourselves. Rather than have more stuff accumulate and go unused, we prefer to create memories. We call them adventures.
I challenge you to try an adventure instead of a typical gift. The ideas below work for everything from Valentine's Day to Christmas. Sure, chocolate and flowers are great, but the chocolates will be gone in a few days and the roses will die. Instead of purchasing gifts separately, work together to create memories that you'll have forever. Laugh together. Live in the moment. Go on an adventure.
5 Experience Based Gift Ideas:
1. Go on a weekend getaway
Planning a trip is exciting. We love looking up our destination and deciding what to see, what to do, and where to eat. Make a date out of planning - let the process be fun and exciting. A weekend away doesn't have to be stressful or expensive! Here are some of our favorite tips for planning a weekend getaway:
1. Check out discount sites and book as far ahead of time as possible. We have found some amazing hotels through Groupon and Hotwire. Shop around to get the best price.
2. We find staying for two nights much more relaxing than staying for one. It allows us extra time to see everything and we don't feel like we are running around. The biggest advantage is that we don't have any travel time on that middle day.
3. Consider Thursday - Saturday rather than Friday-Sunday. This makes a weekend trip feel like a vacation since you have Sunday to unwind and get ready for the work week ahead. The best part is that by spending one weeknight in a hotel, you will likely get a cheaper hotel rate for that night.
4. Don't plan everything. We like to select a few things that we want to do and a few restaurants. That's it. Everything else gets left to chance. We have found that wandering around and exploring usually leads to better adventures than we could have planned.
2. Take a day trip
Select a town or neighborhood near you (we usually try to pick somewhere less than 1.5 hours away) and explore. This works best if you select somewhere that you haven't been, but we have had great success picking a nearby suburb and wandering around like tourists. Wander around, explore the downtown are, check out local shops, and pick an interesting restaurant along the way. For those of us who live busy, scheduled lives, sometimes a day of exploration is exactly what we need.
3. Try a dinner date trade
Pete and I have different dietary preferences. I am vegetarian and gluten-free; Pete is not. Last year we had the idea to take the other person out to dinner. I took Pete to a Brazilian steakhouse; he took me to The Chicago Diner (a well-known vegan restaurant). We got two fantastic dinner dates out of the deal, and the dinners felt like a special, thoughtful gift since we both put such careful consideration into choosing a destination that the other person would love.
4. Buy a book together
Stop at your favorite coffee shop, grab a beverage, and head to your local bookstore. Pick a topic that you are passionate about as a couple, and head to that section to browse. Find a book that you can use to create future date nights. For us, it is usually a cookbook. Make sure to select a book that will create activities: a cookbook, a crafting book, a bedside table book (wink). Once you get home, look through the book together. Mark pages that spark your interest.
5. Learn your love language
Sometimes the best gift you can give is the gift of presence. Invest time in your relationship and each other. There are five main ways to demonstrate and receive love. You may find that your needs are different from those of your partner. Understanding your partner's love language allows for better communication and a sense of fulfillment. Sit down, take the quiz separately, the discuss your results. When you're done, brainstorm some ideas based on the results. If your love language or your partner's love language is quality time, plan a date night free of distractions. If your love language or your partner's love language is words of affirmation, write love letters to be opened at a later date.
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