By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
Written Nov. 23, 2006
My home town of Seattle, has teamed up with King County, along with several other cities and counties in the area, to offer a website full of ideas for gift giving that give *experiences,* rather than *things* (http://www.wastefreeholidays.com). For ten years, King County has been promoting "stuff-free" holiday gift giving, and I think this is a very good step in the right direction on many levels. Not only does this program reduce environmental waste, but it also supports the arts and increases the local population's exposure to culture. These types of programs also encourage people to spend time with each other doing things, which I think is healthy to reinforce in this world of video games and private stereos. Kitsap and Thurston counties, along with the city of Tacoma, are also offering information about waste-free holiday alternatives on this website. Seattle is boasting 120 participants in its program, which offers 15 to 50 percent discounts on tickets and gift certificates for music, plays, sporting events, museums, restaurant meals, massages, and much more.
Why not give the gift of museum memberships? The Seattle program offers a wide choice of options from the wonderful Children's Museum at Seattle Center (which my child loved), to the Museum of Flight, the Wooden Boat Center, the UW's Burke Museum (which hosts a rich collection of Native American Indian artifacts), the Henry Art Gallery (which displays interesting, and often political, art exhibits all year long), the Asian Art Museum, the Pacific Science Center (which has long been a hands-on good time for children and adults alike), the Museum of History and Industry (which has a large historical Seattle collection), and more. Even if you do not live in Seattle or the Pacific Northwest, you can use this website as a model, for gift ideas of museum memberships in your own town.
The Seattle program also offers musical gift idea options. They offer discounts on productions by the famous Seattle Opera, the Seattle Symphony, and Jazz Alley tickets, among other things. The Seattle Program offers theater discounts too. They offer ticket discounts to the Pacific NW Ballet, the Seattle Children's Theater, the Seattle Intiman and Repertory Theaters, the 5th Avenue Theater, the Bathhouse Theater, the UW School of Drama, and more. Sports and recreational alternatives to buying *stuff* are also suggested, with specials for gift giving with the Seattle Sonics, Bike Works (a downtown shop that caters to bikes downtown with parking, maintenance, etc.), Alki Kayak Tours, ice skating rink memberships, bowling alley gift certificates, and more. The Seattle Program also offers discounts at Argosy Cruises (for trips out into the Puget Sound), massages at local spas, dinners by local chefs, henna tattooing, yoga classes, etc., as well as restaurant gift certificate discounts, for places such as the healthy "Julia's," in Wallingford. Again, all you have to do is think outside the box. Are there events that you could buy tickets for, or memberships to theaters, or recreational or sporting events, that you could give to friends and family, to enhance their life *experiences?*
The City of Tacoma offers music and dance lessons as an alternative gift idea, and Seattle also offers pottery lessons in its program. Lessons are a fun gift idea. You could even give private lessons to someone in some skill you know well. You do not have to just hire outside people, with outside skills. You could teach a niece or neighbor a skill you have honed. The City of Tacoma offers an excellent webpage entitled, "Waste Less Gifts and Festivities," (http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/holiday/gifts.htm#experience). This page recommends giving gifts such as tickets, memberships, lessons, skill sharing, services you can provide, a bus pass, planting a live tree in their name, and learning about other cultures' celebratory rituals. You can change people's lives by what you expose them to through gift giving. You can change our future by what you buy and support now. This holiday season, give the gift of culture, of recreation, of art, instead of giving plastic consumeristic stuff, that will just end up in landfills later. Give the gift of a clean planet, along with the gift of new experiences this holiday season!