There have been numerous news articles on the expected shipping delays that will affect this holiday season. The effect of the shipping issues is already being seen in the blank spaces in grocery stores and strange mail delays from online shipping retailers. While the news states that these delays will lead to a less joyous holiday season, it doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to give things this holiday season – you can give time instead.
Chances are as a military family you have moved in the last few years. Time to check out your new locale but support local, and give the gift of time through an annual pass. Is there a museum, zoo, aquarium, historic home, or theme park near you? Consider getting an annual pass for your family. This allows you to explore at your own pace. Bonus if you are tired, or the kids are acting up, you can go home without feeling guilty that you spent all that money on tickets and then aren’t staying the whole day. An annual pass allows you to plan time together as a family. If you have an annual pass to a large zoo, plan days to just see mammals or birds or amphibians. If you get an annual pass to a theme park, stick to one land a day as a fun way to explore without stressing about doing it all. Use the annual pass at the historic home to check out the home during the different seasons to learn about that historical time period during that season. Annual passes support the local business themselves, and in getting passes to local aquariums or zoos you are often supporting the larger organizations to support wildlife around the world.
If an annual pass is not your speed, plan out day trips locally as a gift this year. You can get tickets, if they don’t expire by the end of the calendar year, and plan out an itinerary. Consider even asking for leave on those days now so you can commit to taking those day trips together. Want to spend a little less? Check out the National Parks near you. There are no-fee or low-fee passes for active military and veterans and can be used at any National Park. Plan out hikes or even overnight camping. The fact is time goes by quicker than we think it does. It’s already the holiday season this year, so let’s plan out a time together. You don’t have to limit this to just family. If you have local friends you want to gift an awesome gift to, consider planning out time together on a hike or meeting at a local favorite spot. Have family coming to visit in the coming year, gift the itinerary for a day trip all planned out – and when they come to visit purchase the tickets. It’s less stuff to ship, and in general, time together is why the family is coming to visit you in the first place.
Consider volunteering as a family this year. If you aren’t sure where to start, look on base. Organizations like the USO, Blue Star Families or Operation Help A Hero may be on your local installation and looking for volunteers to help with the programming. This supports the local community and ensures the spirit of giving in your family.
There is nothing more personal than sharing a family recipe with others. Consider writing the recipe card down and sharing a mix of the item. Layer the items for cookies or brownies in mason jars and include the recipe so the item can be made, and the recipe is kept and repeated. Gifting to a large group of people at work? Consider mason jars filled with homemade hot cocoa mix. You can even add little marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, or mint chips to mix up and provide a variety. Giving the gift of homemade is giving your time, effort, and the item. The heartfelt gesture is sure to be appreciated.
The best part about this one is that is can be done and gifted no matter where you live through the gift that is technology. Build a photo album digitally with pictures of your friends or family and send them the link. Let them choose what they would like in regards to photo album size and then ship directly to them. There is still shipping involved, but they can enjoy the link digitally. Or if you prefer, build an album with just the files like Google Photos. You can jointly share the photos and enjoy reflecting on the time together.
Giving time through these items isn’t just kind, but also budget-friendly and in many cases eco-friendly. How will you give time this holiday season?