Yeah, there I am, having an EXPERIENCE.
Now, let me get this out of the way first and foremost: I like things. Specifically, being a stereotypical girly girl, I like pretty dresses and amazing shoes. I was given two pairs of amazing shoes for Christmas and I had a smile so wide, you could have driven a double decker bus into my mouth (please don't attempt this, however...).
BUT, there is much to be said for experiences over things. After all, as much as I adore being given shoes, jewellery, make up and other stuff, there's only so much room to store it all at home. When you give an experience as a gift, there's no storage issue and no panicking that it's not the right colour, or size.
Last Christmas, both my sister and I decided to buy our mum experiences, along with the more traditional gifts she had under the tree. My sister paid for her (and I, thanks sis!) to go to a posh London hotel for afternoon tea. I paid for my mum (and I, because I'm a musical theatre nerd) to go to see Les Miserables in the West End. Neither gift needed to be stored anywhere. But both combined to create a day that we're still smiling about.
And not just because there was champagne involved...
Saturday 16th January was a genuinely wonderful day. Mum and I went for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party and filled our faces with delicious sandwiches, gorgeous cakes and frankly, the best scones I have ever eaten (and I live in Cornwall, which is famous for cream teas - seriously, Cornwall, sort it out, because London's trouncing you). Afterwards, we mingled with the crowds on Oxford Street, wandered down Carnaby Street (where I of course bought some Irregular Choice shoes, because sometimes you can't resist things, however awesome the experiences you're having are...) and went back to my sister and sister-in-law's flat, to chill out with the girls for a bit, before our trip to the theatre.
They CALLED to me, BEGGING to be bought.
And then, of course, later than evening, Mum and I went back into town to the Queen's Theatre, where we watched Les Miserables and I cried so much, I was at risk of severe dehydration.
You'd think sobbing my heart out on and off for three hours would be a memory I wouldn't cherish, but you'd be wrong. More wrong than Marius for not seeing what a feisty babe Eponine is. Because the fact that I was crying meant that I was feeling something. I was experiencing emotions. I didn't just feel sad, I felt moved, inspired and bizarrely thrilled, in the way that only seeing or hearing something that stirs your soul can really make you feel. Mum and I left that theatre full of excited chatter about how awesome the set was, how incredibly talented the whole cast were and which moments were our favourites.
There was nothing to put on a shelf, or wear, or use. But there were memories made that day and that's priceless. And for all the shoes and dresses in the world, days like Saturday are so much more precious. Memories are worth more than possessions, after all.
So, I've been thinking a lot about giving experiences rather than things as gifts, whenever I can and it's something I think I'd like to do more of. What better present to give to someone you love than an experience that they'll enjoy, creating memories they'll cherish for years to come? That's something I would love, too - if someone thought about something I would love to do and paid for me to do it, that would probably mean even more than a gorgeous pair of heels (although if you're reading this and you're planning on buying me heels, don't let me stop you...).
And it's not just gifts, either. I'm not the richest woman in the world, but I would rather spend the money I do have (Irregular Choice addiction aside) on experiences. A fantastic dinner out, or a trip to see a show somewhere will give me memories to look back on that will last longer than a new dress, or a bag. A weekend away with a friend will be much more fun than spending money on jewellery or make up. I'm making a belated resolution for 2016, to cherish experiences way, way more than possessions. And it's already making me very happy indeed.