Be the Best Gift Giver Ever

By Barbara Pierce

Give the intangible: a gift of an experience, an experience that will bring a happy memory

That beautifully wrapped Christmas gift with its exquisite paper and big red bow looks so impressive. You yearn to know that the person you’re giving it to will find it as wonderful as you do; will find it memorable, something to cherish.

You’ve stressed out over what gifts to give the people on your list, paged through countless catalogues, strolled through a myriad malls, scrolled online endlessly. Do read this before you spend any more time stressing out.

The sad truth is most people probably won’t like the gifts you’ve chosen so carefully. According to a survey from a Japan-based online retailer, almost 75% of people either regift unwanted gifts, sell them or donate them to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

That’s harsh.

Seems like there are a whole lot of people who might not keep your carefully selected gift. The gift you spent so much time worrying about.

That’s not to say your loved one won’t appreciate a Christmas sweater featuring Rudolph, a pasta recycler or a sound-activated carol-singing banner. It’s just that a lot of people would prefer something else.

Like a memory.

Memories last forever. Give the intangible: a gift of an experience, an experience that will bring a happy memory; maybe even bring a whole new dimension to their lives. One that teaches a new skill, fulfills a dream, or acts on a person’s passion.

An experience trumps anything you can put in the most beautifully wrapped box or bag.

“That’s a great idea! An experience is so much better than a thing!” said Captain Andy Bliss of Chasin’ Tail Adventures in Oswego.

Fishing guide Captain Andy offers a variety of fishing trips, on Lake Ontario or its tributaries, the Salmon River or the Oswego River, aboard one of the Lake’s premier charter boats.

“We do salmon, lake trout or steelhead; it comes down to what the person wants,” said the congenial captain. “There are different types of fishing, different trips we offer. And it comes down to when the person wants to fish. Some people like winter fishing, the solitude, with the beautiful scenery. Others like the spring or summer.”

“An experience, like a fishing trip, is the best gift you can give,” said Captain Andy.

Just call him at 315-591-4578 (or see, get a gift certificate for all or the partial cost of one of his trips. Then the recipient of the gift can call Captain Andy and decide what type of trip he wants and when he wants it.

April Cacciatori agreed. “The gift of a personal service is always well received,” said the master therapist, founder and operator of Zensations Therapeutic Massage in Rome.

Zensations offers several types of massages, relaxation and pampering in a spa, and mind-body coaching.

“Many people are frugal; they see a massage or spa service as a luxury, frivolous. They wouldn’t purchase it for themselves. But they’d love the experience,” she said.

“A gift of wellness goes a long way,” she continued. “There’s something beneficial about every one of our services. None are at all foo-foo or frivolous. An hour of quiet on a massage table is so beneficial. We’re all so very stressed out these days.”

She suggested you purchase a gift card, like $50 or $100, and let the person choose what services they would like. See or call 315-339-9100 for details.

Or consider a dance class. “If someone in your life, a child or adult, has mentioned they’ve thought about learning to tap or do ballet, a gift certificate for a class or two would be perfect for them,” said Nancy Long, owner of Utica Dance in New Hartford.

“The beauty of dance is that it’s a physical activity that engages the mind; it’s good for the brain, good for physical health and mental health,” she added. “We offer classes in tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary and more, for ages four to 84.”

As the cost of each class session is $10 to $15, Long suggested you purchase whatever amount you wish, then let the person decide which class or classes they wish to attend. Email her at or see for details.

Gifts of experiences can cost whatever you’d like to spend. They don’t have to be expensive. From a local art class, pasta making class, a virtual walking tour of Ireland, the Antarctica, or wherever, a wreath-designing class, to a night in a luxury hotel, a hot air balloon ride, in home wine tasting, an interior design makeover — the opportunities overflow.

Just Google a phrase like “Experiences to give as gifts” or something similar and you’re sure to find that perfect gift. A gift that will bring fond memories, fulfill a dream, and maybe even change a person’s life.