Giving the Experience for the Holidays

By Kevin Gibbons,

Melissa Tosetti, my partner at The Savvy Life, and I are blessed with many close friends. Over the years, this very tight-knit group has grown from about 10 to as much as 20.

When this group first formed, gift-giving was a big part of it. With birthdays occurring almost every month, we were all in constant “perfect gift” searching mode; but December became incredibly stressful. It wasn’t just about the money, although with that large of a group, the financial load was significant. We all are very close and we all wanted to get everyone a unique, meaningful gift. And we usually did. Many of the gifts I received from this group of friends are still among my treasured possessions more than twenty years later. But everyone found the experience exhausting and nerve-wracking

After about five years of this, we came up with solution that has become our tradition ever since. Instead of buying individual gifts for everyone, we set aside a fraction of the money we would have spent and rent a vacation home, usually in the Tahoe or Sierra area, and all spend a 3-day weekend together. We pick a time after the holidays, when everyone has a bit more freedom in their calendar, usually around President’s Day (because we all do love the snow!). We split the rental of the cabin (typically less than $150/person) and everyone brings food and drink to prepare and share. Our group likes to eat and drink well, so this can add another $100/person to the cost. So, for $250, we have covered Christmas gifts for 19 other people plus a three day weekend getaway!

But our tradition is about so much more than controlling costs, or even holiday stress levels. We have replaced giving things to people we care about with giving ourselves. Those weekends together have given us all some of our best stories and memories. There is no set agenda or plan, so every trip is a new experience. We sled in the snow, go exploring, play games and spend a lot of time just talking to each other. In a modern world where everyone is distracted and consumed by attention-grabbing disruptions, to focus your attention on someone, let alone a large group, for three days is indeed a rarity. Now, we don’t ban social media or lock up cell phones on these trips; but everyone is having so much fun together, they don’t come out other than to post occasional updates of the weekend. But we truly do view this time as a gift to each other and treat it accordingly.

So, as you are shopping for the “perfect gift” for your friends and family, take a moment to look beyond the sales and Internet deals. Our group has decided on these weekend getaways as our gift experience, but that is only one possibility. Attending a show, planning a large dinner or day at the park are all options. The important thing is to pick an experience your group will enjoy and spend time together.


Always check GroupOn Getaways for these types of vacation deals:

HomeAway is also an excellent site for vacation rentals:


Kevin Gibbons is the Chief Operating Officer of The Savvy Life and co-author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, Kevin and Savvy Life Founder Melissa Tosetti have worked with over 450 individuals and families to create Spending Plans.

They also work with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

If you’d like to learn more about how Kevin and Melissa work with clients, visit The Savvy Life’s Programs page.

If you’d like to learn more about how they work with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page