(Edit: Added a seventh, Something that helps others)
Christmas is fast approaching and the panic of getting the right present of Sophie is creeping in. Every Christmas, birthday, and anniversary is the same; she not-so-casually drops hints and I do my best to remember them. I do, however, like to get her something that she might not have thought of, something that I see as really her. This brings an element of risk into the gift giving scenario and honestly gives me sleepless nights.
As I have been thinking of what I can get her this Christmas, I’ve been remembering all the wonderful gifts we have given each other over the years. They have fallen into 6 sections and I wanted to share them with you here, to hopefully give you a little inspiration too.
Please do send any suggestions you might have as time is running out..!
1) Something practical
A few days before Christmas 2010, Sophie and I were in a hotel in Shoreditch – in a room we had been fortunate enough to bag for £1 – and were getting ready to give each other our first gifts. I had spent weeks planning what I would get her and had opted for something on the practical side but also that she had mentioned she wanted.
We both decided to open our presents at the same time and, as I peeled the wrapping paper off my gift, I nervously glanced across at Sophie doing the same. As we opened the presents, we were a little surprised; we had both bought each other exactly the same soft shell jackets, hers in red, mine in blue. We had obviously both been thinking along the same lines and both loved what we had got. I still wear the jacket 4 years on and it reminds me of that Christmas every time I put it on.
Last year, having listened to Sophie’s passing comments of being unhappy with her sunglasses, I bought her a pair. I managed to find some rather bold sunglasses but also in a colour that was very Sophie. She wears the sunnies all the time and I love seeing her in them.
Practical gifts, when not too practical, mean that you get to see the person using them all the time and not just being folded up and placed in a draw nine-tenths of the year.
2) Something to plan adventures with
Adventures all start with an idea; maybe an inspirational article someone shared with you, maybe a dream you’ve had for years, or maybe a photo that talks to your soul. All adventures start somewhere and what better gift than to something to stoke that fire.
During a time of real change for me, I was feeling quite lost and directionless, and Sophie gave me a little notebook with ‘Plans for World Domination’ illustrated on it. Over the next 3 months I wrote all my thoughts, ideas, and objectives down in it and it really helped me find my mojo again, develop some awesome adventure ideas, and fuel my creativity.
Another wonderful gift are coffee table books. I sometimes worry that they get put on a shelf and not opened after boxing day but both Sophie and I have received wonderful ones. For Sophie, the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in the Alps book has been an amazing source of inspiration and planning especially in the lead up to the Alpine Coast to Coast. For me, Batoux’s 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif is one of the most wonderful books I own and flick through it almost daily.
Providing and nurturing the adventure spirit is crucial to getting out and creating your own adventures.
3) Something different
You’re into running but have you tried climbing? Maybe you’re into cycling and never tried wild camping? Sophie and I have a number of passions we share but we also have hobbies or ideas of activities that the other person hasn’t tried. Christmas is the perfect time to introduce the person to that sport.
A few years back, Sophie bought me a running belt, a sort of bum bag that holds water bottles and food so that we could go on longer runs. It was a lovely gift that built on what I already liked to do but hadn’t tried yet. Another great evening was Hot Tub Cinema, maybe not the most adventurous evening but a great night out nonetheless!
4) Something to do together
There is nothing better than sharing an adventure with someone. Also, then you are basically getting the present too – double win! Sharing adventures and providing the support for each other to try something new is a great gift.
Sophie and I have both given and shared tonnes of adventures; some that have become our favourites and some the were more of a one off. They don’t have to be expensive either. Sophie once gave me a trip for two, kayaking along the River Thames at night, a wonderful and romantic adventure for us both. Or a surprise weekend to a new place neither of you have been to. A couple we know are off to Morocco for a long weekend and, with EasyJet flights being amazingly affordable the whole trip is costing them very little but what an amazing adventure to share!
5) Something to do apart
You don’t have to do everything together. In fact, some time apart can be a very good thing. Sophie and I are into different activities, albeit along the same theme, and what I absolutely love is not always her number one choice. Sessions at the Ice Factor indoor ice climbing wall are just amazing with several locations around the UK, white water rafting down the London Olympics course, or even a track day at a cycling velodrome are all amazing ways to let someone you care about open their wings and really fly.
6) Something that helps others
I am very fortunate and sometimes feel like maybe someone else would be more deserving, giving the gift of giving to someone in need can be a great way to make more than one person happy. What about a Climbers Against Cancer tshirt, where your adventure loving friend can show their support for the amazing initiative founded by John Ellison? Or maybe adopting a beautiful snow leopard, penguin, or elephant?
7) Something to dream of
And then finally there is realising their dreams with the perfect gift. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to help someone you love to actually realise the dream they’ve been holding onto. If we really think about the other person, there are normally countless ways we can help move that dream forward. One step at a time.
Maybe one day, we could have this little chap 🙂
There are so many amazing causes out there, a gift to one of them could be a great gift to one you love.
What are your ideas?
After a few of my ideas, now I need some help from you guys.. What amazing, inspiring, and just plain fun ideas have you got for Christmas?