Several years ago, my husband and I realized that what we really wanted for Christmas was to spend time together.  We both worked service industry and retail jobs, so our time together during the holiday season was limited.  That year started our tradition of gifting each other a winter trip for Christmas and, only a small gift under the tree (usually an item to use on our trip!).  Since then, we've taken winter trips to places such as Mount Washington for a guided mountaineering trip, West Virginia for cross country skiing lessons, and Washington DC to visit the Smithsonian museums.  We have also started this tradition with our families - we gift them days spent hiking, kayaking trips, even a homecooked dinner at our house.  My 13-year-old cousin is still talking about the day we spent hiking at a local state park for her birthday, two and a half years ago!  

The widget wrapped under the tree may break; the trendy toy may be forgotten about within a few months.  But the memories created spending time together last a lifetime, and those memories are more valuable than any material gift!

In our high tech world, spending time together with family and friends encourages bonding that is hard to get elsewhere.  Kids especially learn to value personal relationships over material goods.  As an added bonus, kids learn more from educational experiences, like a trip to a museum or nature center, than they do in a classroom setting.  For gifts that teach skills, like a sewing class or swimming lessons, those introductory lessons can become a lifelong hobby.

This holiday season, we encourage you to think about the experiences you'd like to give your loved ones, and create a gift around that idea. If you want to share an experience, a guided hiking tour or a cooking class is a great way to speand a day together!  If the person you're shopping for has always wanted to try backpacking but you aren't into it, maybe a guided group backpacking trip is the perfect gift.

If you need some inspiration, check out our hike gift certificates, day hikes and overnight trips.  They're sure to please anyone on your list!