Holiday Gift Guide: Give Experiences, Not Things - Among Other Things (The Blog)

Holiday Gift Guide: Give Experiences, Not Things

Sponsored by Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase. All opinions are my own.

Today is all about upgrading the traditional holiday gift-giving game today, which is perfect if you’re a last-minute Christmas shopper (like I am, admittedly).

paris guidebooks

Each holiday season, I try to think outside the box for gifts that will leave a lasting impression on the recipient – whether it’s for a family member, friend, significant other and so on.

… And a sure-fire way to give someone a gift you know they’ll love is to spend on experiences and less on material objects. After all, we’re ultimately just looking to make a few more memories (and spend a little more time) together, no?

view of the sunset from an airplaneFor me, the first thing that comes to mind is gifting an experience — or better yet, anything travel-related.

Think about it: When you have a great vacation or experience, you remember more about who you were with, the places you visited, the meals you ate and the memories you captured – not so much what shoes or jacket you wore. (Well, I actually do remember these things, but that’s besides the point… Ha!)

hallie wilson studio paris club in chicago

Before we go on that tangent, though, back to the premise of today’s post: Shopping.

I’m not one to open a lot of credit cards, but travel perks is something I am always looking out for (as evidenced by today’s photo montage). Earlier this month, I came across one that’s actually something to talk about —  especially in the context of today’s post: The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase.

In full disclosure, the brand reached out and asked me to consider sharing the benefits of it with you (given the timelines of some of its benefits, which we’ll get to). Given my affinity for gifting experiences, I obliged – but only after I did a bit of research.

Here’s what I found out:

Perks first:

Most of us shop at stores where we have a coupon or discount (47% of us, actually — according to a survey done on behalf of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase — and with this credit card in particular, you can actually kill two birds with one stone by saving money while you spend it.

jcrew at the beach, best boutiques in southampton, best shopping the hamptons

Card users get five points per dollar spent at any Marriott location, two points per airline ticket purchases, car rentals and restaurants; and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Points then translate into cash back on your card or a variety of travel-related purchases.

For someone who stays at Marriott hotel locations (or plans to), frequently dines out and spends on travel, this could be a really beneficial card. Your points seem to add up quickly, and when you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months, you’ll get an extra 80,000 bonus points.

what to pack for a weekend trip

Awesome, right?

Through the rest of today’s post, I’ll share a few of my own favorite travel and experiential memories over the last few years, but let’s here’s a few gift-giving ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Grab your girlfriends and book a warm-weather getaway to the British Virgin Islands or US Virgin Islands. Plan it in advance so that you can score lower fares on airfare and lodging.
  • Go the dining route: Give a gift card to a company that offers a variety of restaurant concepts.
  • If you’re tighter on budget, book a hotel in your city and play tourist for the weekend. Taking a mini-escape feels luxe but won’t break the bank.
  • If you’re not sure where your recipient would want to go, just get them a gift card to the airline they fly most often – you know this is one gift they won’t be returning. Guaranteed!

Make memories:


Pretending to be locals in Paris, packing a homemade picnic to enjoy in one of the City of Light’s many beautiful parks.


Snorkeling off the coast of Krabi, Thailand in January… No winter blues here!


Lazy, late nights on the water in Chicago, Illinois.

Beach bar hopping along St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

sailing in thailand

Living on a catamaran off the coast of Thailand with seven of my closest friends — for a week straight. Truth bomb? None of us used a shower the entire week — instead, we shampooed and such using a hose off the back of the boat.


Ringing in the New Year (2015) at the infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.


Spending a long weekend off the grid at Caneel Bay Resort.


Eating our way through all of the Dim Sum in Hong Kong.

gondola-big-buddha-hong-kong … And taking a gondola ride across the bay (in Hong Kong) during sunset… Talk about the scenic route!


Waking up on Christmas morning in a Ryokan in Arashiyama, Japan (a town just outside of Kyoto).


… I went with two of my good friends, Sara and Amy. We often ate on the floor and wore traditional Japanese robes during our stay.

More memories:

trendy restaurant hotel costes in paris

Drinking rosé into the (very) late hours of the night at Hotel Costes in Paris, France.

20 janessa leone straw fedora for women and striped towel

Playing hooky during the week on a particularly nice day in Chicago… We’ve got to take advantage of our summers!
See the full post here >

rewardstyle-conference-in-dallasDitching work-related responsibilities to hit up happy hour with friends in Dallas, Texas.

bows & sequins and corals & cognacs lifestyle bloggers at the veuve clicquot polo classic in new york cityBooking a last-minute trip to New York City for the annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. What an interesting flight home that was!


Need even more of a reason to gift experiences?

  • No buyer’s remorse — even a bad experience is a good story!
  • Regardless of duration and distance, planning a trip or experience shows effort.
  • Experiences make you who you are.
  • Memories last longer. Period.


A few more notes on the credit card, before we wrap it up (… ahem, see what I did there?):

Annual fee:

The annual fee is $85, but you get a free night at any Marriott each year on your anniversary, which essentially covers that fee (and then some).

Overall thoughts:

Gifting experiences is a great way to put some extra time and effort into planning something special for someone this holiday season. Ultimately, if you’re a frequent traveler, this could be a great investment – especially if you’re like me when it comes to the holiday shopping habits mentioned above.


Thanks to Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase for partnering on this post. All opinions are, of course, my own.

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