First of all, I’d like to say that I love stuff. Gadgets. Games. I love clothes and lotions and art and jewelry. I love it all.
So, if you’re someone — especially a good gift-giving someone — who has a plan to buy your friends and family stuff, then by all means, go for it.
But, for those of you who are shopping for the person who has everything, who wants for nothing, or who will just return the gift for money anyway: Read on. Because I’m about to make you a gift-giving star.
The key is actually super simple, and it’s to just give your recipient the feels (for non-millennials, that means emotions). It’s like what Maya Angelou said about words: “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel.”
Except in this instance, it’s that they won’t remember what pattern the tie had or if it was shea butter or coconut oil lotion you gave them, but they will remember how your gift made them feel. Yes, cars and puppies will also give your loved ones the feels, but this is a quick guide for things that don’t require batteries, maintenance, poop clean-up or dusting.
We start the list with contributions to important causes. The very reason you’re interested in giving good gifts is why this idea is so winning: Giving something important — something needed — feels awesome. It’s like petting a unicorn’s rainbow mane while puppies kiss your face. It’s practically magical and probably why Old Saint Nick is so darn jolly.
To contribute to people, animals, public media or causes that need financial resources in the name of your beloved is gifting them generosity and keeps them from having one more thing to dust (you’re double welcome). It also shows that you are in tune with what is important to them.
The second nonstuff gift idea is an experience — giving the gift of a rad memory. This could be tickets to see or hear world-class artists (UtahPresents, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and Pioneer Theatre Company are particular faves of mine, but perhaps that’s expected given that my day job is working in the arts at the University of Utah). Or it could be the local wine and chocolate class at Harmons, Caputo’s World Whiskey workshop (WANT!), a guided fishing tour or a day at the spa. Think about what your people like to do, then make the arrangements for them to do it.
The third nonmaterial gift idea is access. This includes access to information (*cough* digital subscription to The Salt Lake Tribune), access to animals (annual family memberships to Tracy Aviary, Hogle Zoo and the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium are my family’s favorites), and access to media (Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Audible, etc.). Memberships to gardens, museums or gyms make great gifts, too, and I think you get bonus points for piggybacking on the New Year’s resolution drive to get in shape or be more cultured. Cha-ching!
And, finally, let’s not forget plain old money. I’m talking cashola. Coin. Bones. The almighty dollar. It can come in the form of stocks, bonds, gift cards or Bitcoin, whatever that is, because I don’t know a single person who’s been disappointed by getting moolah (although, if you do, send them my way so I can alleviate them of their burden).
Anyway, that’s it, my friends — your grasp on the intangible goods of the season. Go for the stuff they’ll hold in their heart, not stuff they’ll hold in their hand.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.