I think there is a certain age where the giving of gifts for occasions requires more thought. This happens for several reasons. Perhaps we reach a point where we can afford to buy things as and when we need them, have acquired plenty of stuff already or the frivolous purchases – however lovely – don’t seem to carry the same meaning. I love to give presents with a little more thought, gifts that will be received and enjoyed rather than added to the category of ‘just more things’.
Several years ago now, we began gifting experiences to family members. To collect moments spent with them. From afternoon tea for two at a fancy hotel to a meal with us, via no end of days out or trips to favourite locations. And I have learned that these are the gifts that people love. Love to the point of my father-in-law actually feeling disappointed when we gave him a physical gift for his birthday rather than the meal out with his son that he really wanted. (Don’t worry, that was the plan for Father’s Day so all’s well that ends well.)
Actually we often combine these gifts, a birthday/Christmas close together? Or a couple whose birthdays are only one month apart? An experience they can both enjoy seems like a lovely gift to me.
There is one particular family member though who always has me flummoxed. Not through any fault of his own, simply because my lovely husband has three occasions in quick succession for which I would love to gift something with meaning. You see our anniversary is in late June and usually falls in the same week as Father’s Day, so by his birthday in early July I am regularly scratching my head!
But this year, the answer landed in my inbox at just the right time. An invitation to try one of Virgin Experience Days experiences. After a quick look at their website I knew this was the answer to my gifting quandary and lost a happy hour or more browsing through the experiences on offer. There is literally everything I could think of to choose from.
Mini breaks in hotels, glamping, a spa day? Yes, all there. Racing days and hot air balloon rides? Afternoon tea or a gin tour of London? Boating? I could really go on for another hour listing the options, suffice to say that there is sure to be a package for everyone from children to adults.
And then I came across the perfect experience for him. Have you heard of the British Airways i360 in Brighton? It is an enclosed viewing platform that travels vertically up to 380′ above Brighton’s seafront, located next to the old West Pier, with far reaching views in all directions. You can even see the Seven Sisters cliffs which are those I photograph regularly as they are only 10 minutes from my home! We have spoken amongst ourselves about going for a flight but with a child who isn’t keen on heights, we hadn’t yet made the trip.
So I booked the experience for just the two of us and booked the Grandparents for the children. Needless to say the flight was such fun! For just under 30 minutes, we travelled up and down with a long pause at the top to take in the view. And considering it was a Sunday afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year (to be read as EVERYONE and their dog were at the seafront) it wasn’t too busy either. We had plenty of room to move around the air conditioned pod and enjoy the panoramic views.
After the flight, we visited the small museum in the building below the pod. My husband studied Engineering at university and is still fascinated by the construction of these large structures, so reading how the tower and pod were built was a treat for him. It was his birthday after all…
Our experience ended with an afternoon tea at the Hilton hotel almost opposite the i360. We have always loved an afternoon tea, ever since we met when I was still a teenager. It’s a bit of a family joke as to just how much we love them. But honestly, a scone with cream and jam? What’s not to love? Not to mention the finger sandwiches and delicious cakes and bakes included. In fact the choice was so wide that we came home with a package filled with the things we simply couldn’t eat at the time!
We thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the terrace outside the hotel with cocktails and treats, basking in the sunshine and watching the world go by. A day out of the ordinary, with a new memory to add to the collection and be remembered far longer than any ‘thing’.
You can find details of the experience we enjoyed here though there are actually six different packages involving the i360. But if Brighton and the i360 is not for you, as I mentioned above, there really is something for everyone and to suit all budgets!
“While you are alive collect moments not things”
This post is kindly sponsored by Virgin Experience Days – all thoughts are my own