LIFE & STYLE
"It's the Simple Things in Life"
Most of us can agree that we have too much stuff in our lives. The popularity of books on organizing like Marie Kondo’s bestselling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, the exponentially growing business of home organization services, and the congestion of “stuff” we see trucked to our landfills is indisputable evidence that we are a bit overstuffed with our stuff!
Erin Boyle, Lifestyle Blogger of “Reading My Tea Leaves” has risen to incredible fame by simply sharing how she lives in a 500 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, New York, with two kids. That is no small feat! One of her secrets to solving the Stuff Struggle is focusing on filling her home only with well made things that are truly useful and beautiful.
As housing gets more and more expensive in major cities around the world and every square inch of our home starts to really matter, everyone is asking how do we do more with less? While decluttering and minimizing in our homes are great steps towards unstuffing ourselves and making room for greater comfort, another avenue to consider involves enjoying some creative “More With Less” gift giving ideas. If you or your friends are moving towards minimizing check out this little gift list of life changing experiences to share during the special moments in your lives. Enjoy the making of memories instead of giving each other more stuff.
1. GIFT CERTIFICATES
The secret behind the perfect gift certificate is one that allows your friend to enjoy an adventure rather than an object they’ll need to find space for. Giving a gift certificate is super simple. Keeping in mind the recipient's interests and favorites, just go online and purchase one! Thinking beyond the traditional shopping gifts, many restaurants, coffee shops, amusement parks, movie theaters, and even home services offer them. If you know your loved one’s bucket list adventure, try catering your gift certificate towards that interest. Gift certificates allow the person to enjoy exactly what they want, which is just grand!
Who doesn’t love pizza!? The pickiest of eaters, vegans, vegetarians, kids, and adults all look forward to enjoying a slice. Almost every great birthday party I have attended with my kids serves it. Even those with gluten intolerance can now enjoy delicious gluten free versions. In LA we have some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy. “Pace”, tucked away in Laurel Canyon, “Medici” in Sherman Oaks, “Pizzeria Mozza”, “AGO” and “Terroni” near Melrose. In Toronto you can score the most authentic and the best Neapolitan pizza at “Pizza Libretto”. Wherever you live there is sure to be a revered pizza joint. For a dear one’s birthday treat them to a gift certificate so they can go enjoy a slice and think of you.
It is through the sense of sound that we can experience great happiness and joy. It’s so satisfying and uplifting to listen to favorite tunes, sing along, and even dance. Music we love attaches to our memories and years later hearing the same music instantly brings us back to those special moments in our lives. Since sound is so personal, a gift certificate to i-Tunes makes for a great and thoughtful gift. Your friend can choose exactly what she wants to purchase and listen to. If you know exactly what artist your friend enjoys listening to you can even gift tickets to a live performance by that artist. Either from their library or live they are sure to enjoy their gift of a musical experience. (youtube link to an old man going crazy dancing)
If your friend has in iPad or kindle, gift them an e-book certificate for whatever amount you like. If you know your friend prefers paperbacks and hardcovers, look for vintage printings from her favorite authors or give her a gift certificate to her local book nook or Barnes&Noble. A book is tangible, but it can also be shared or donated to the library after reading. The expansive world it opens someone up to is a priceless and memorable experience.
Gifting the chance to learn something new is very thoughtful and useful. While the gift satisfies the receiver’s curiosity about the world, the knowledge they gain will serve them for a long time to come. Take into consideration your friend’s interests and use the list below for some useful gift inspirations.
Cooking is a life skill that anyone would appreciate refining, even the most experienced of cooks, because there is always more to learn and discover. Consider your friend’s level of experience in the kitchen and gift them a class they will find useful. “Sur La Table” is a great place to start if you live in Los Angeles. In addition to your local culinary arts schools, check with your favorite restaurants and bakeries for group and private classes they may hold.
Foraging classes simply teach what wild plants that are safe to eat. Gifting your friend an opportunity to learn how to forage will not only get them out in nature, breathing fresh air, and meeting interesting people (group classes often take place on weekend mornings), but might even save their life one day if they ever get stuck in the wilderness without any food. Additionally, wild plants are extremely nutritious, full of incredibly healing minerals, nutrients, and enzymes.
Karen Stephenson of Edible Wild Food
in Ontario, Canada leads an informative and fun “Wild Edible Food Walk” that ends with the group sharing a salad with the plants they’ve all picked with Karen’s help. My family has previously gone on walks with her and found her class to be illuminating.
*Here is a list from Eat The Weeds Blog sharing with us “101 Foraging Teachers” that instruct in U.S., Canada, and Europe.
The people behind “MasterClass” find “the best of the best” in any particular field and get them to teach a class, which they film and edit beautifully. This class is available online at MasterClass.com and can be purchased and watched anytime, anywhere. There is a page that allows you to “gift” a class. Whether your friend likes fashion, music, cooking, wildlife or film there is something to satisfy everyone’s interests. Steve Martin lends his expertise and teaches a class on comedy, Serena Williams teaches tennis, Jane Goodall teaches about conservation, Usher teaches the art of performance and later this year Diane Von Furstenberg will instruct a class on building a fashion brand.
Magic On The Go
Imagine you are sitting at dinner and conversation has stalled. Or you are out with your kids waiting for something, or other, and you bust out a mind bending puzzle or magic trick right there on the spot using simple things that are already around you, like salt or ice, toothpick or napkin. That special moment of sharing, bonding, awe and excitement is what inspired actor and award winning magician Steve Valentine to launch “Magic On The Go”, an ever expanding online collection of short videos that teach magic tricks from the simplest for a beginner to extremely complex for a full out pro. If your friend or loved one can use some “magic” in their life, gift them a subscription to this amazing and ground breaking new online school and community.
3. SPA SERVICES
Mom Friendly Spa
If your friend happens to be a new mom, sleep and time deprived, she will surely be overjoyed receiving a gift certificate to a spa day like one at “Spa Lé La” in Studio City, CA. “Spa Lé La’s” motto is “While the little ones play, you get away.”
They offer a variety of relaxing services, including nails, massages, facials, and hold on-site child care so her little ones can play while she even enjoys a luxurious bath!
Owner Trina of Facial Bungalow was inspired to pamper moms. “Spa Lé La” might soon come to where you reside. Look out for a “Spa Lé La” franchise coming near you.
Reflexology is an ancient technique of pressing on specific points on your feet and hands that help your body “release toxins”. This treatment would make a perfect gift for someone in your life who needs a little boost of energy and a lot of healing.
If you live in and around Los Angeles, I highly recommend you give “Soul Point Reflexology” a try. They issue pretty gift certificates and have specialists that will drive to your friend's home to perform a one hour reflexology session for $80. Contact them at email@example.com to for details and to book a session.
When there is a special occasion and somewhere to go, who doesn’t like to have their hair expertly blow dried? A gift certificate to “Dry Bar” is the way to go. With hundreds of locations across the nation, check their website for a "Dry Bar" nearest to where your TLC recipient lives.
4. HORSEBACK RIDING EXPERIENCE
Giving a loved one a chance to to experiencing riding on horseback and witnessing amazing views of the famous Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and surrounding downtown Los Angeles is sure to make a memorable gift.
At "Sunset Ranch" they get to saddle up for a one of a kind guided tour through the rolling hills of Griffith Park. This 5,000 acre park sits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
If you live outside Los Angeles, check your local listings to horseback guided tours.
5. MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
“Magazine subscription gifts are like getting a hug from a loved one once a month.” That’s how it feels! A dear friend knows I love fashion and got me a year worth of subscription to “Porter Magazine” for my birthday. Every time it arrives I feel like I’m receiving a big, huge hug from her. I love “Porter Magazine” for not only covering current fashion trends, but also featuring interesting articles about art and culture and history.
Again think about what interests your friends and subscribe them to a magazine. If they like cooking get them Martha Stewart. If they live in California and love art, travel and culture get them Sunset Magazine. Whatever their interest; yoga, art, food, fashion, parenting, photography or travel, get them a subscription to a magazine that delves deeply into that topic. Oh and spy around to see that they don’t already get this magazine in the mail! While a magazine is a tangible gift if can be recycled or beautiful images from within it’s pages can be cut out and used to create an inspiring image board.
There you go, my little list of gift giving ideas that cures over stuffiness and promotes thrilling adventures, deep knowledge, pure imagination, beauty, love and learning. And if you happen to spy some things on this list you would want yourself as a gift please feel free to share this article with your friends as a little hint that you want more adventure in your life and less stuff.