What people in your life want as gifts from you IS you. I know you don’t believe it and it can be such a difficult thing to offer, but it IS what they want from you. They want your love, your attention, your intimacy, your respect, and your time. They want to be held as special in your life and be actively included in it. They want to connect with you, understand you, be with you. They have weird ways of communicating this I know and there is frequently so little evidence to support this perception. But nonetheless, even without knowing YOUR friends and family, I am sure it is true. For the remote people in your life, that are really only “in your life” on paper, abstractly and impersonally, it is perfectly appropriate to offer a Dutch cheese wheel, perfumed shower gel, or rum chocolates. Anything more distinct would be kind of weird. But consider this idea, or a version of it, for the others:
What do YOU love? What are you constantly telling stories about, getting excited about, planning, preparing, etc. If you’ve landed on this page, it’s walking, outdoor adventure, and other ways of skooching about the world. And I promise you that your friends and family feel left out of it. So bring them in. Create an adventure for the people in your life that you take them on. Here are some examples of how this could be done:
For Mum: Wrap up a topo map with an easy and pleasurable walking route highlighted on it. Mum loves gardens, so start at a city botanical garden, have lunch, then head to a trail in the woods. She would hate sleeping out, so plan a route that includes decent accommodation. Have it last at least 2 days. Make it exciting at her level of excitement.
For Your Love: Wrap up a topo map with a route highlighted on it or not. Surprise terrain can be great fun.Create a trip that is centered around being a gift for her, maybe including a surprise walk to a luxury accommodation in the middle of 5 days of wilderness trekking. Make it to a place she’s always wanted to go but you’ve scoffed at. Be her sherpa. Cook her meals.
For a child: Wrap a topo map with the explanation (and decoration) that this is a treasure hunt map. Pack up that child for a day or two and take them out on the land looking for things! All kids like to find stuff. You could use a formal geocaching route, but I think it would be more fun to hide little toys, maybe even lunch, beforehand and use good old-fashioned compass, map, and landmark ways of finding it. You MUST camp.
For a friend: It’s the most fun to do this for a friend who does not “like” the outdoors and consistently gives you a hard time about your obsession with it. Wrap up a topo map and pick an absolutely STUNNING route.. no difficult ascents, easy terrain, and offer to have “escape route” options every few miles or so. Turn them on to it. For the friend who already is a walker, plan a trip and offer to teach them something they don’t know, or something you both will learn together, for example, snowshoe for the first time, or natural navigation techniques, etc.
The best part of arranging adventures with people is that you get to go .. and that you are also giving yourself the gift of them and a deepened relationship, though it would also be fun to arrange one for your faraway friends/family that you wouldn’t be able to join. You could route and plan accommodation for a 3 day trek for a couple, or send geocaching routes (and an inexpensive gps) as a gift for an entire family. You could buy a travel blog domain name and get your friend who already walks started on blogging about it. You could offer a friend trail support (ie: be the person who mails the food boxes) as a gift. And, it goes without saying, you could also buy them a FABULOUS piece of stylish travel jewelry from the very swanky TheNewNomads Etsy shop.