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Christmas is just 17 days away.
How’s your shopping and wrapping coming?
Based on the photo, you might expect me to say that I’m done, but you’d be wrong. My mother, sister and two of my three daughters are, though, and being the smart women they are, they have also figured out a way to avoid spending hours wrapping gifts. I, on the other hand, am far too accommodating.
Finishing the 2016 Christmas shopping is at the top of my to-do list.
I plan to be done before the weekend is through. Now it’s just a matter of deciding what to buy… What’s on your list?
If you’re anything like my husband and me, figuring out the perfect Christmas gifts has become more and more of a challenge each year. That is until we realized the value of giving presence instead of presents. I’m not talking about bringing our family together for the holidays – though we are excited to spend Christmas in Chicago with our children and grandson and blessed to be able to do so! What I’m talking about is giving a gift of being more present in the new year.
Making memories together has always been a Noorman family priority, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is with travel. In 2016, Greg and I gave the gift of presence to our children in May when we traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to help our youngest daughter move to a new apartment, in September when we spent a week with our oldest daughter in St. Louis, Missouri just for fun, and numerous times throughout the year when we popped down to Chicago to spend time with our middle daughter, her husband, and our grandson.
Another way to give the gift of presence is to plan a surprise.
One of the best ‘presence’ I’ve ever given was when my sister, brother and I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona to surprise our parents when they were named Helldorado parade marshals and honored for their service to the town.
And one of the best ‘gifts’ I ever received was when my three daughters surprised me by traveling to Michigan and bounding up the steps shouting “Happy Birthday, Mom!” the day before my birthday in 2009.
Finally, the most obvious way of giving the gift of travel is to plan, purchase and present airline tickets, a cruise, or some other wonderful surprise vacation to your loved ones this Christmas. While this may seem extravagant, it can be more affordable than you’d expect.
Mid to late January is one of the least expensive times of the year to fly.
And, as long as you’re not heading to a snowbird or spring break hotspot, February and March are reasonably priced as well. A quick check of prices on Southwest Airlines this morning is evidence of great round trip prices in the first few months of 2017.
- Chicago – Dallas, $136
- Phoenix – Seattle, $108
- Pittsburg – Ft. Lauderdale, $118
- Boston – Atlanta, $116
I always try to fly Southwest if I can because they allow 2 free checked bags saving a minimum of $50. And their newer planes have a lot more leg room!
In addition to flights, I found cruises in January and February listed as low as $198 for a 4 night Bahamas or $389 for a 6 night Yucatan Escape on Royal Caribbean. Of course, you have to shop around for the best fares, but I always do that. (Side note to my children: no, you are not receiving airline tickets or a cruise for Christmas, but Dad might be!)
When it comes to picking a place to stay when you get there, I recommend that you find a hotel chain or two that you like and join their loyalty or rewards programs. We received several free nights from the IHG Rewards program this year which allowed us to spend more time in Chicago visiting our daughter and her family. The added presence with them this year has been a blessing as they’ll be moving to California in the new year, and that’s a long way from Michigan. I’ll bet you know what airline tickets I’ll be searching for in the new year!
How about you?
What kind of travel presents and presence are you planning on giving?