The best gift? A memorable experience

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Experiential gifts – take a bow, travel – are proving more popular than clothing and cook books writes a pleased Kaye Holland

This Yuletide, I’m not shopping for a stylish sweater for my best friend or Apple accessories for my Uncle. And I couldn’t be happier – not least because it saves me from battling the crowds on Oxford Street over the holiday season.

No: I’m ecstatic about this change in Christmas shopping patterns because it signals that my nearest and dearest have decided that, this year, they want to explore as opposed to collect more stuff (thereby subscribing to my theory that more stuff simply equals more stress).

Subsequently the folks have opted to see Stepping Out – a new musical starring Amanda Holden – that is arriving in the West End in March, while my inner circle of friends have variously asked for contributions to air fares or tours, tickets to a sports match, cooking classes or gift certificates  to a wine day.
In other words, my friends and family have collectively chosen the gift of experience. Admittedly it’s perhaps because most of us are Londoners forced to live in postage-stamp sized flats – owing to London rental and property prices being as high as the Shard – meaning we simply don’t have space for material goods. Having moved 12 times in 10 years, I know that I certainly shy away from owning stuff – the fear of having to pack up possessions and cart/ship them to whichever London post code/part of the world I find myself bound for next, is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. (Read James Wallman’s fascinating book, Stuffocation, for further insight into this new trend.)


But, more than this, I suspect the real reason we’re all thinking beyond gadgets et al this holiday season is because we have finally woken up to the fact that memories last a lifetime, whereas the joy received from opening physical presents – say clothing that you won’t wear next season, yet alone next Christmas – is fleeting.

A year of unforeseen change (here at JAT Towers we’re still recovering from both the shock of Brexit and a certain US election result) means we now value quality time and experiences shared with the special people in our lives, more than any tangible gift.

Hallelujah to that.

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