‘Tis the season to give what matters most: time spent together on a unique adventure! It is so easy to get caught up in the materialistic view of the holidays, so this year, break the mold. From the moment I can remember, my family has spent the holiday season together, valuing gifts of time and love more than anything. Every year, specifically, we give each other a “gift certificate” for an adventure. From hiking a new peak to visiting a new state to cracking the code of a mystery room, our gifts are full of challenges and, in turn, become wonderful memories.

Here are seven reasons you should incorporate the “gift of adventure” into your holiday shopping list:

1. It is actually a gift that both the receiver and the giver want

There are only so many pairs of socks, base layers, headlamps, and pocket knives that your adventuring friend or family member needs. Instead of adding more weight to their backpack or taking up space in the closet, give them something they really want. How often do you and your friend verbalize that you “need to spend more time together” or you “can’t wait to see each other”? Gifting an adventure to go on together, like a day trip to your local ski mountain, promises that you will spend some time seeing each other. Plus, it’s fun for both of you!


2. It promotes less stress and more positive feelings

We all know that stress increases dramatically over the holidays. Although practicing yoga and spending time appreciating Mother Nature are great ways to reduce it, so is gifting your time to someone you love. When we are busy giving more to work and additional obligations, it is easy to sacrifice quality time with others.

Taking time for social interactions creates positive experiences and supportive relationships, both of which we can lean on when times get tough. As an added bonus, you get to avoid the stress that comes with the crazy traffic and crowds at the shopping mall, and spend all that extra time outside. As one alternative, plan an outing to Jackson, NH, where you can take your loved one on a holiday sleigh ride!

3. It can be easier on the budget

The largest part of your gift—your time—is truly free. So, the cost to give an adventure can be as little as the gas it takes you to get somewhere. Do you have a family member or friend that enjoys hiking? Why not gift a winter hike? As a family, we would often give a small item that could be used on the trip, such as winter gaiters or gloves with liners, and attach a “coupon” for a hike we planned for the receiver. It was always cheap on the wallet, but wealthy in spirit and family time. For ideas on how to outfit your hiker and what to bring along on a winter trek, check out our Alpha Gift Guides.


4. It will last

Electronics: You buy it, and within six months, it’s outdated and a better model is available. By giving the gift of adventure and time spent together, however, you are choosing something that will never go out of style. Think about a moment you completely enjoyed with friends or family. What is your favorite part about that memory? Why did it make a lasting impression? Giving “time” is a concrete expression of love that people can measure.

5. It could save your loved one’s life, or at least teach them a new skill

When my husband and I decided to take our skis off the groomers and into the backcountry, we fell in love with the combination of hiking and skiing. We also considered the additional risks of skiing in areas where patrollers were unavailable and conditions were not always ideal. Instead of just “sending it,” we opted to learn about these conditions from an expert. For Christmas, we gifted each other an AIARE 1 Avalanche Safety Course and now have the skills to safely ski along backcountry trails.

If you have an adventurer in your life who is excited to try something new or ready to take their activities to the next level, consider gifting them a course like the ones offered through the EMS Schools. Awesome courses include rock climbing, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, first responder training, paddling, and so much more. Extra bonus: Take it with them, so you can adventure together!

6. It is important for your health and your family’s

Some of my most favorite memories involve adventuring with my family, from hiking the Presidential Range in the White Mountains to cross-country skiing at Bretton Woods. While I cannot tell you what material gift I received for my 12th birthday, I can tell you the finest details of the three-day Kennebec River white water rafting trip my parents took us on for my sister’s 16th birthday.

Research has proven that shared experiences, especially those involving nature, promote healthy psychological development in children and adolescents. Youth who spend large amounts of time with family have a stronger sense of identity, higher academic success, and lower violence rates, just to name a few upsides. As one option, give the gift of a family adventure this holiday season, like a weekend trip to Nestlenook Farm in Jackson, NH, for ice skating, frozen waterfall hiking, snowshoeing, and so much more.


7. It will not end up in the storage unit, donation bins, or the trash

Do you know that the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually while giving or throwing away over 200 pounds of clothing per year? And, that there are five times more storage units than Starbucks in the United States? An adventure, on the other hand, can never be thrown away, donated, or placed in storage. It’s eco-, budget-, and spirit-friendly.

Do you give the gift of adventure? Tell us about it in the comments!