The importance of presence…not presents

A gradual shift has been taking place over the last few years when it comes to presents. Slowly, but surely, people are starting to focus more on an alternative approach to gift giving. Whether that be voucher experiences, gig or theatre tickets, promises of time spent together, homemade presents or repurposed treasures, an ethical mindset is starting to creep into our mainstream, consumerist culture. Once laughed at for making jams and chutneys for Christmas, these same people are now being asked for recipes so those that once mocked them can do exactly the same thing!

There are many reasons for this. Budgets are squeezed and for many, disposable income is not as plentiful as it was a few years ago.  Then there is the simple matter of people having enough, nay – I’d go as far as to say too much, stuff. Children are drowning in clothes and toys and adults have ever growing collections of ingenious kitchen gadgets, exotically flavoured gins, books, music and whatever else finds its way into their homes. An increasing awareness of the alarming rate at which our climate is changing and all the waste that our society is producing also adds to this new mindset. More and more folk are turning their backs on the ‘BUY BUY BUY’ culture that pervades every waking moment once the clocks have fallen back in October and are looking for something, more.

Something more meaningful, something more wanted, something more valuable, something better for the world we live in, not just for the recipient.

People are realising the importance of presence, over the abundance of presents.

Of course, that isn’t to say that you should never buy well chosen, specific gifts that you know will be adored, treasured and regularly used by the recipient. But often, we are driven to buy things that they don’t want or need by a desperate last-minute pressure that we must get them something.

Many presents are inevitably used, broken, eaten, discarded, forgotten. But, and I’m sorry for the cheese, memories last a lifetime.  Do you remember many specific presents from your childhood? Or do you remember more, the traditions and the feeling you got when you woke up and spent the day with those who loved you?

And it is these memories that are leading more and more people to choose giving the gift of presence, of time spent together, of experiences and memory making, at this time of year. Whether that is a family season ticket to a local attraction, the promise of a trip for coffee and cake with a good friend, a massage for someone who desperately needs to relax, a voucher for a place on a course (from soap making to spoon carving or handstand workshops!) there really is something for everyone you love. Sometimes, it may take a little more effort to concoct the perfect plan but that just makes the gift more special as you’ve given your precious time and effort as well as the experience or handmade treasure itself!

So why not think about not hitting the shops for the mad pre-Christmas rush this year and instead, sit down with a cuppa and have a think about what the people in your life would really like. Would your Aunt appreciate a walk along the coast with you finished with a cream tea overlooking the wild winter seas? Would one of your children love the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with you on the pier in the arcades or at the bowling alley? Would your elderly neighbour appreciate a jar of homemade chutney and some local cheeses? Would your dear, overworked friend, love a trip to a local spa one day with you for some much-needed R&R? Would your niece or nephew love a day at one of our Forest School Holiday Clubs during one of the forthcoming school holidays?

Why not make this Christmas about creating opportunities to make memories, not waste?  In whatever form it takes, give the gift of your presence to those you love this year.

And on behalf of all us here at The Outdoors Group, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and the most amazing New Year!

Author: Hannah Durdin
Date: 17 December 2019

Spoon carving workshop 

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