Living in the present

With time becoming our most precious commodity, experiences may be the most thoughtful presents of all.

Last Christmas, my mum gave me a yearly pass to the V&A Museum just after I had moved to London. It was the gift that kept on giving: not only was I able to visit one of my favourite galleries for free (and feel grateful to her every time I did so), she unknowingly sent my social currency through the roof.
Amid a sea of sold-out shows, I held the key to every queue-jumper’s heart and, for the briefest of years, I had never felt more powerful.

We all worry about what to buy our loved ones for Christmas — the cousin who seems to have it all, the daughter with very specific tastes or the sibling who “doesn’t want anything” but come Christmas, looks utterly crestfallen upon unwrapping a pair of socks. We spend weeks fretting about this before making a distressed purchased, when actually, an eco-friendly but no-less-shiny alternative is waiting in the wings.

In recent years, I have started giving experiences, whether it’s a subscription to a service, a pottery class, gallery pass, or even a spa day. Time is fast becoming one of our most precious commodities, and an experience, whether it’s learning a new skill or giving someone the opportunity to take a moment for themselves, is both touching and shows you’ve really thought about what they might want or need in a different way, and perhaps with an emphasis on their long-term happiness and wellbeing. As much as I love art, I would have never thought to buy a gallery pass for myself, but the V&A halls became my Sunday sanctuary in a new city that never seemed to switch off.

There’s always something to be said for unwrapping a gift that takes your breath away, but if we can make little moves to cut back on the excess without diminishing the wow factor, it can only contribute to an overflow of festive cheer come Christmas day.

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