By Elizabeth Aloni
As the holiday season hits its peak, it’s not too late to ensure that you are connecting with your loved ones in a meaningful way. The holiday season is a time of connection. We have come to define these connections through gift giving but there is a way to make your connections deeper so the impact will last long after the holiday cheer has passed.
A friend of mine told me she is not doing gifts this year with her fiancé and family, but rather giving experiences and I just loved it! Giving experiences is about doing things instead giving things. It’s about experiencing these things together instead of offering a gift to be enjoyed on one’s own. Don’t get me wrong, I like gifts just as much as the next person (listening Sam?) but the research is clear that the memories made while experiencing things with the ones you love make for deeper memories and long-lasting happiness. Although gifts are great, even when you receive exactly what you want (jewelry perhaps?), the joy associated with receiving gifts is incredibly fleeting. Just watch a child receive a gift and within hours or sometimes minutes they are on to the next thing.
The nice thing is that it’s not too late to give an experience this holdiay season and when you see what joy it brings to your relationship you will want to give experiences for birthdays, anniversaries and “just because.”
The following are steps to creating an experience for the one you love.
1. Think about your partner. What are some of your partners’ favorite things? My husband Sam LOVES music and LOVES going to concerts, so for me, an experience I give to him would probably include music. Here is where building your Love Maps with your partner is so important. Building your Love Maps, if you recall from other newsletters and my workshops, is about asking questions of your partner so that you are continuously learning about their ever-changing inner world. It helps you to be in touch with who they are, shows you are interested in who they are and builds a powerful connection between the two of you.
2. Think about your relationship. What have you been wanting to experience together? What do you miss? If you are a parent, it might be time together. Date night, intimacy nights, massages. What are your partner’s dreams for your relationship? What are your dreams for your relationship? Make it a reality!
3. Combine the two. The idea of these experiences is to experience them TOGETHER. This is how you will build connections and memories that you can share. It will bring you closer, strengthen your relationship and provide great, long-lasting joy.
4. Now select one of these things to build into a personalized experience for your partner. Here’s something I’m planning. (Sam, stop reading) I am giving Sam a night out just the two of us with no curfew where we go to a concert of his choosing and I will enjoy it with him. I will not wait in the lobby (hate to admit it but I’ve done that). I will be by his side standing up and dancing along with him. I’m even going to listen to the music before the show so I can learn some lyrics!
5. Give it to them! Don’t wait on this. You can create gift certificates for these experiences. Just be sure to schedule the experience in a timely manner (i.e. within a couple of weeks). Don’t let the certificates collect dust because that would create the opposite effect. Empty promises are disastrous for relationships.
6. ENJOY the experience and plan another. Enjoy every minute of these experiences. They can range from a quiet dinner together at home to travels to foreign countries. They can cost little to nothing and the memories you make and the connections you deepen will be priceless.