The Best Gifts in Life


People always ask me what gifts I like to give, and I have a very simple response: Travel. I work in an industry that explicitly deals in material things, so my gift giving philosophy of experiences over things is certainly at odds with my work, but I find travel to overall be a more rewarding gift—and one that takes a lot of guessing work out of the process. 

When I ask my children what they want for birthdays or holidays, they usually don’t know. We all travel, so I think, why not give that as a gift? It could be a plane ticket, but it could also be a stay at a hotel. It might be a nicer hotel than the person would choose to stay at themselves. 

Still, when it's Christmas and you have nothing in hand, no gifts under a tree, it can feel odd. So I will try to give little things that are related to a trip. For my daughter Frenchie, I once bought her a little carry on bag and a sweater, both intended for an upcoming trip. 

People say it’s very difficult to give me gifts. They think I have everything. But I do like to get soaps, or a fragrance, or flowers. It could even be a haircut. When I am in Brussels getting my haircut, sometimes my sister will pays for the session as a gift to me.

For dinner and holiday parties, I don't like the idea of having to bring a gift to dinner. With dinner parties, the expectation should be that a guest will invite the hosts to their own dinner party, and the act is reciprocated. Only if a guest is from out of town should he or she bring a gift, since they likely will not be able to extend a dinner invitation.

If I am hosting a dinner party and someone asks what to bring, I do give a specific answer, as I assume that the person actually wants to help me. It could be something like bringing flowers to give to the musician playing at the party.