Tag Archives: anniversary gifts

Invest in experiences, not more stuff

They like signposts at Rum Point!

Find your next adventure.

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and other gift-giving holidays often have us wondering, “What would our spouse most want to receive?” At least within our budget. Sadly, most of us can’t recall the vast majority of gifts we have given or received. Ads bombard us with the message that the more we buy, the happier we will be. But there’s a better way. Research shows that spending on experiences rather than on things brings the most happiness.

The gift of travel is a great way to make lasting memories. My memories of fancy dinners in expensive restaurants pale in comparison to a long-ago simple Parisian picnic with my husband featuring baguettes, cheese and wine. Beach memories are another favorite. Having toes in the sand seems to lower stress levels and increase playfulness. I smile when I think of our beach rental houses with kids and not much on the agenda. Although it was more than 20 years ago, lounging in a hammock in Hawaii is the image I conjure when I need to relax.

Many people think they can’t afford to travel. Yet they spend hundreds of dollars each holiday on gifts that are soon forgotten. Many airlines offer credit cards that allow you to gain frequent flyer miles for spending a minimum amount. We have used them to take two overseas adventures for four people. Adventures can also be found much closer to home, such as in state parks where lodging and camping are very reasonable.

Travel allows us to try new things together—food, cultures, activities, adventures. Experiencing new things has been shown in research to be good for keeping our marriages strong.Whether your idea of fun is a pub crawl or foodie tour, learning to surf, reading a new book together, or taking dance classes, find something you’re willing to try.

Things don’t always go as planned when traveling, but these hiccups create challenges we can overcome together and become part of the memories we can laugh at later, like the very “rustic” lodge we stayed in while white water rafting with friends, or the seafood beach picnic that attracted hundreds of seagulls. Vacations (with kids or as a couple) allow us to have large chunks of time to focus on one another and away from our many screens and devices. Travel helps us experience nature in new ways and relax our minds and bodies away from the daily stresses of life.

Planning a trip takes time and effort, but from looking forward to the trip to the positive memories left behind, it’s worth the effort and creates more lasting happiness than buying more things. Forbes magazine suggests investing in experiences, such as dining out, a trip to the spa, or buying things for other people are a better investment in long-term happiness than buying things for ourselves.  Going to a concert instead of buying a new outfit, or choosing to rent a boat instead of buying one are examples of investing well in experiences.

“Nine times out of 10 you’re much better spending money on experiences and other people than on yourself. You’re much more likely to have genuine, fulfilling happiness as a result.”–Forbes contributor Ilya Pozin

What are the trips or experiences do you remember most with your spouse? What is your favorite travel memory?

This bracelet helps me remember my trip to Maui with sand from the Hawaiian island!
bracelet

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 20 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

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Father’s Day, Anniversary Gifts for Men & What to AVOID Giving Your Husband

I recently wrote about gift ideas and what to never buy your wife, and was asked to also include some guidelines on gifts for men in time for father’s day. I’m happy to oblige, with the caveat that you must first know your spouse, their preferences and dislikes. Thoughful gifts that fit their personality are more appreciated than generic gifts. So, if a shirt and tie have become your mainstay father’s day, birthday or anniversary gift, give it some more thought.

My own husband has never liked receiving gifts. He finds it much easier to give than to receive. He’s also very tricky to buy for, since he usually heavily researches any purchase. However, we’ve both gotten better about this over the years, and I asked for his input on stuff guys generally like. So, here goes:

  • If your man has ever wanted to race a car, fly a helicopter or plane, go up in a hot air balloon, go parasailing, or take golf lessons, this would make a unique experiential gift. You don’t have to break the bank; we recently found a Groupon offer for $75 for one helicopter lesson.
  • Most guys like electronics. Is there a new gadget he has had his eye on? If he’s a book lover, maybe the Kindle or iPad would be appreciated. A few years ago, I gave my hubby an ipod that was engraved with “You rock my world.” He liked it better than all the watches and shirts I’ve given him over the years.
  • Does your husband have a hobby for which he needs accessories (i.e. bicycling, photography, motorcycling, fishing, boating, woodworking)?
  • The gift of time to do something he enjoys without guilt. Write out a certificate that says a free weekend with the guys, fishing trip to Canada or whatever honks his horn.
  • Search the antique shops for something that would make him smile–a picture of a car he drove in an earlier era, a magazine from the year he graduated from high school or his birth year.
  • Give tickets to a sporting or musical event or a play–maybe even season tickets.
  • Have portraits taken for him, or compile some of his favorite pictures or videos together.
  • Plan an evening or weekend away with you with nothing required on his part. This time together can help you reconnect and rekindle your romance. Speaking of romance, I recently learned about a board game called A Private Affair, which would make an interesting gift. It’s sold as “an erotic game of secrets, plans and promises for couples.” While I haven’t seen the game in person, I’m thinking most men would prefer that to a tie. ****When I told the game’s creator I would share this with you, he offered to give one away!! So, anyone who posts a comment to this post will be entered into a drawing to win the game.
  • Beer, cheese, wine or fruit of the month club–or other gourmet food he enjoys.
  • My dad and husband have always enjoyed tools, but this should be reserved for DIYers who enjoy that kind of thing.
  • Fly in a friend or relative with whom he would love to have a visit.
  • A limited edition book or rare album.
  • Read this great article on charitable gift ideas for dad.

I asked my hubby what gifts men receive that should be avoided. So BE WARNED:

  • Anything to do with personal grooming, such as a nose trimming kit. So, in case that was on your list, cross it off. 😉
  • Massage gift card–Many men might love this, but this is where you need to know your man. My guy hates them.
  • Dance lessons or anything you want to do, but you’re pretending is a gift to him.
  • Supplies for him to complete a project you want him to do. Again, it’s a gift for him, not you.
  • Do you really have to be the one to buy socks, underwear and belts for him?

P.S. I’m writing this addition after Father’s Day since I didn’t want to ruin  my husband’s surprise. I had a home video made for him to some of his favorite songs, with tons of pictures from our kids’ baby years, family vacations, holidays and fun moments together. He said it was the “best father’s day gift ever.” I collected all the images, and hired a family member who is great at that kind of thing. It’s something we will both treasure for many years.

I’d love to hear your ideas of great gifts or not-so-good ones. Guys, what is the FAVORITE gift you have received, and what do you wish you would not receive again? Do you like getting car wash cards, gift cards or other “generic” gifts, or does it seem too impersonal?

Comments are now closed for the drawing of A Private Affair. It will be awarded shortly.

Photo credit: PhotoXpress.com