Tag Archives: shows

Twelve Posts of Christmas–The gift of Experience

Ahhhh. Another gift post. In my defense…it’s kind of an important part of the season.

When it comes to gift giving, my priorites have definitely shifted over the last few years. Even as recently as three or four years ago, all the family members would be pressured to make a list about three to four months before christmas and then we would all race to find things on the list. Of course, the things that went on the list were often thoughlessly placed on there under threat and panic. And the gifts purchased were usually not exactly what someone had in mind. Inevitably, you exchanged the gift for store credit and just bought yourself the shoes or sweater or phone case you really wanted in the first place, but couldn’t buy for yourself because you put it on your list three months before Christmas. I really appreciate the way that my family has changed the gift giving dynamic because it allows us to be more considerate in our gift giving. Instead of rushed emails that are copies and forwarded to everyone, we now have more personal conversations about what we’re involved in, what we would enjoy, where we like to go, what we would like to do. More and more I find myself wanting to give the gift of experiences. Imagine my gratification when I came across this article in MSN Money.

Indeed, the article talks about how in order to “choose such a gift, you need to know the recipient’s taste in music, theater, magazines or museums, ” and that “the right experience gift rates high on the happiness scale.” Getting someone something they will never use it a waste of money, so it really is imporant to really have meaningful conversations with the giftee so that you can both enjoy the experience.

The article gives ten suggestions for experience gifts, and for the most part they are great ideas. I would like to add to that list movie theater passes (I highly recommend the iPic), gift cards to favorite restaurants, tickets to interesting private industry tours (i.e., breweries and distillaries) and specialty store gift cards, including fancy tea and coffee shops. I think that some people think of gift cards or tickets or whatever you want to call these gifts are “cop out” gifts and indicate thoughtlessness. But only thoughtless gifts are thoughtless. For example, a Barnes and Noble gift card for someone that has a Kindle or a Magazine subscription for someone that hates getting mail is not only inconsiderate… it is a waste of your time and energy, even if minimal, and your money! However, a Barnes and Noble gift card to a Nook reader is potentially hours and hours of entertainment. The article mentioned above points out that experience gifts may “put a burden on the recipient, so it’s important to make sure you’ve made a good choice. A spa day may sound like a wonderful gift for a new mother, for example, but it isn’t a great gift if she has to pay for a babysitter or pay for extra services and a tip once she arrives.” The bottom line is that you need to know your recipient and do your research.

These types of gifts are great for those wanting to explore their communities and enjoy new experiences. They are also a great way to allow someone to spoil themselves a little bit by buying something they would normally no indulge in. They often take just as much thought and research as gifts you can wrap in big, pretty boxes.

If you have a great idea for an experience gift, please share. Or, if you’re received an awesome experience gift, or a miserable fail, I’d love to hear about it.


The Size of Your Package

Why are we so wedded to the idea of having dozens of channels we never watch to occasionally catch movies and shows we have already seen–all with commercials.  Clearly, I understand why people have cable.  I got cable as soon as I got a real job and a real TV after graduating college and had it up until a few months ago. I also recall delaying canceling the cable by one month because I panicked that my stepfather would not be entertained for Thanksgiving.  I even insisted on having a TV in the bedroom, though my husband didn’t really want it there.

When making the choice to quit cable, I thought seriously about the shows I would no longer get.  And I had gotten quite enamored of DVR’ing certain shows and having my own commercial-less marathons. So I am not coming at this from a position that TV is filth and that we would all be better off not watching it.  I like TV.  What I didn’t like was paying so much money for a “package” that had nothing to do with the way I wanted to watch TV.

We were paying around $60 a month for a package that didn’t even include HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. I brought up the idea one day to get rid of the cable and explore other options. Luckily, my husband does not watch sports or this conversation could have gotten ugly.

We did some research. Looking back, I can’t even remember why we went with the choice we did, but in the end, we decided on Hulu Plus, and for less than $10 a month we can watch TV. The transition has not been perfect. Hulu Plus has a lot of great trendy shows… but not the trendy shows I watched before. It seems that not all stations have jumped on the internet TV bandwagon…though I think it is only a matter of time before they will.  For example, none of the home improvement channels have come along for the ride, or CBS. Hulu Plus also has a lot of weird foreign stuff. Yes, I know that I am not the only person or race watching this stuff, but there is a lot of it on there, which, to me, means that much of Hulu Plus does not appeal to me.  Also, if you flip through Hulu Plus it seems that there is a lot of content and “TV” channels, but a lot of those channels either have no content or only clips. It is very misleading. Hulu Plus also still has annoying commercials.

I am still tweaking my optimal TV viewing package.  I am probably going to get a TV antenna, which I understand allows you to get up to thirty channels since the digital conversion.

This would include CBS.  Currently, I can watch CBS on the computer, and even mirror it to my big TV, but CBS only holds a few episodes at a time and the quality of watching it either on the computer or on the TV is poor. The cost of an antenna would be around $50, but it is a one-time fee and would solve a lot of my issues.  And, conveniently, since this form of TV does not require one-year or two-year contracts, I can still switch to Netflix without penalty.

So, in short, even though I am still trying to get the right formula, I know that the result for us is a savings of around $50 a month on a recurring bill.  That’s potentially two round trip tickets to visit my sister. $600 a year just for adjusting the way I watch TV.