Father and son watching the Christmas lights
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Father and son watching the Christmas lights
11/29/2019 09:32 EST | Updated 11/29/2019 09:32 EST

Meaningful Presents That Can’t Be Wrapped

It’s hard to beat the euphoric rush of coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and seeing a Mt. Everest of gifts avalanching down around the tree. Unwrapping that perfectly-curated gadget or necklace or watching the looks on your kids’ faces as they tear into the latest must-have toy is priceless, but sometimes we get so swept up in the “buy culture” of the holiday season that we can lose sight of its true meaning – that the memories we create (whether they’re gifts or experiences) are much more important.     

With that spirit in mind, we thought we’d connect with some Canadians who have put a more meaningful spin on their holiday gift-giving in the hopes of creating some long-lasting memories – gifts such as experiences or shared events that the family can do together, or even that personalized gift that tugs on the heartstrings.

In collaboration with Interac, here are some ideas to inspire you as you brainstorm ways to show your loved ones how you feel this season.

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You can’t put wrapping paper on your dad’s best dad jokes, nor can you put your sister’s infectious laugh under the tree. The feeling you get when you share some amazing time with your family is invaluable, so why not start a new tradition by taking everyone out to enjoy a movie or theatre production. 

“It’s been a family tradition for years to attend The Nutcracker every holiday season. It’s a great way to spend quality time together plus get festive!” says Toronto-based project manager, Sabrina Campolucci. “We usually grab a bite to eat either before or after the show, always ensuring we try someplace new.”

And with the myriad of ways to get tickets with easy and secure Interac payment options, pulling this epic family outing together each year is a piece of cake. And the best part is, the tradition can grow to include anyone you feel like sharing the joy with. “Some years we invite our extended family or friends to join us, just to change it up and experience the performance through their eyes,” Campolucci adds. “It’s a very special time of year for my family and we look forward to it as the holiday season approaches.” 

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 If you’ve ever uttered the words “Wait, you made this yourself?!” to a creative family member as you opened a gift they gave you, then you know how cool and meaningful it can be as opposed to, say, a gift card or something store bought. Plus, you get to brag to all your friends about how talented your family is. 

Health and wellness professional Danielle Rodenkirchen agrees. Rodenkirchen’s family has a deep history in the bespoke-craft arts. “Actually, we used to make homemade gifts in lieu of purchasing already made gifts,” she says. “I come from a very creative family, so some examples from years past included baked goods, frozen meals, homemade candles, art pieces, personalized calendars, ornaments, wood crafted items, I could go on.”

But Rodenkirchen’s love for DIY gifting doesn’t end there, she’s also turned it into an experiential gift as well, often giving her own children local hands-on craft activities to learn, such as ceramics painting or glass art classes. “We have even gone to a candle-making workshop,” she says. “They still get a handful of material items, but we are trying to do less of stuff we don’t need and gift more practical items that we do need like socks, bed sheets, a new water bottle.”  

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All this is not to say that buying something material can never be meaningful. It can for sure; it just takes some thought and observation to nail that perfect gift. 

A couple of years ago, writer Derek Malcolm bought and renovated his family’s rundown 80-year-old cottage from his father after his mother passed away. It was a special place for them, and after getting a new lease on life they were excited to enjoy it together. 

Derek’s wife and daughter love the water, and they talked endlessly about having a stand-up paddleboard to take out on the Georgian Bay together. So, in the middle of a December snowstorm, he strapped a 12-foot SUP to the roof of his car and drove it from a downtown Toronto sporting goods store to his house outside the city. 

He hid it in his backyard gazebo (which was covered for the winter) for two weeks, and on Christmas Eve he waited until everyone was asleep before he snuck out of bed to traipse it into the house for the morning reveal. “It basically eclipsed the entire Christmas tree,” his wife recalls, laughing. “We’d been going on about a paddleboard all summer, and we couldn’t believe you remembered. As far as meaningful gifts go, you hit the nail on the head.” 

Now, each summer as they all enjoy the water together on their new toy –however material it may be – not only are the Malcolms making new family memories, but they all get to have a laugh remembering how a stand-up paddleboard ended up under their Christmas tree.

The path forward is exciting. To learn more about INTERAC products, visit their website.