I’m done giving gifts. Well, kind of. I should clarify, I’m done giving stuff as gifts.

This new strategy started with my Mom and Dad. I love my parents more than anything. But, there are things about them that make me crazy (and I’m sure that one works both ways!) One of those things? Their tendency to keep anything and everything under the sun. I love, love, love that they recycle, that they reuse, but there are things that just aren’t recyclable! And they have tons of it…

Which makes gift giving very difficult. And I’m a gift giver. My love language? Gifts. I love finding that one thing thing that brings sheer joy to the face of the recipient. But with my mom and dad, I just can’t do it anymore.

Which is why my sister suggested, and we instituted, the “No Crap Initiative.” The idea? Give them a gift, but it can’t be something that adds to the amount of stuff in their house. So, a massage? Great! Gift card to a nice restaurant? Good one. Tickets to join the grand kids at the Harlem Globetrotters? Nailed it!

The result? Happy parents but even better, we’re racking up experiences with them.

You’ve probably seen articles recently about the power of experiences over material goods. How creating those memories trumps all of that stuff. How experiencing life is the best gift you can give.

I absolutely love it!

When I think back to my childhood there are very few, if any, gifts I remember. But I can tell you, I remember my kite flying birthday party; I remember the family Santa Claus parties; and I remember the surprise party for my 13th birthday!

Speaking of Christmas, we’ve stopped giving our friends gifts at the holiday. Instead? We host our annual Christmas party. Talk about memories!

But I draw the line with the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love creating memories with them – just ask them about zip lining in Costa Rica, sleeping in the hanging tent, going to the Broncos games, or the heart-stopping, floor-dropping water “slide” at Water Country USA.

But the reality is they still want stuff – and I’m going to give it to them.

I know, I know, it sounds hypocritical, maybe it is, but I’m drawing a line.

I know those gifts won’t simplify our lives, and they may not be remembered next year, but have you ever watched a kid rip into a present? The sheer joy is amazing and that little bit of short term happiness is worth it to me.

After all, rules are meant to be broken, right?

But that’s an exception, not a rule. My new rule? Whenever I can, I’m going to find a way to create and give an experience as a gift. Because the one thing you can never have too many of is memories. And  the thing about memories, they don’t take up space, they last a lifetime and they provide that little dose of happiness over and over and over again.

And that sounds like the ideal gift to me.


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