This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of an Experience!

By Sempai Elena Waldman (Guest Post)

For many, the holidays are fast approaching, and the dreaded “what-should-I get-the-people-in-my- life?” question looms large. This year, consider giving an experience, rather than a thing. 

According to The Atlantic, “Experiential purchases are…more associated with identity, connection, and social behavior. Looking back on purchases made, experiences make people happier than do possessions.”

Brooklyn Heights Row House – Part of a Cool Walking Tour.

If you’re looking for an experience with kids, try an indoor play space, such as Kinds N’ Shape in Staten Island (there is also a location in Queens.).  There, little ones can enjoy free, unstructured play – jumping, running, bouncing, zip lines, and more. You and your little one(s) can enjoy free activities offered through NYC Parks and Recreation – from hikes to scavenger hunts to storytelling.

Tweens and teens may respond to archery (Queens Archery), trapeze school, escape rooms (Staten island), or color runs.  Another great idea for this age group is a pre-paid, limited debit cards. Let them pick the activity, plan the day, and “pay” for the experience.

For the cell-phone obsessed, scavenger hunts can be a stress-reduced way of initiating plugged-in together time. Many walking tour companies offer this service, as do as app-based programs.

Long Island City, Queens — Brooklyn Unplugged Walking Tour.

Friends might really appreciate time together at a walking tour. Brooklyn is home to several, including Brooklyn Unplugged.  Spartan races, museum tours, midnight bowling, and food truck crawls are affordable and fun.

To enhance the experience, put away the distractions. It’s a demonstration of love to offer someone undivided attention, a thorough opportunity to connect, to explore something new together, to make memories. If your phone is your camera, silence it completely.

To underscore the experience, get together to journal, scrapbook, or collage photos and mementos of the experience. After all, memories last forever, but fidget spinners, ultimately, collect dust under the couch.

About Writer:

Elena Waldman, Founder and Executive Director of Artemis – Self Defense, Empowerment and Anti-Violence (, will go anywhere, anytime, to teach any one self-defense. All for free.

Artemis is structured on the principles that violence is rooted in systems of oppression – racism, misogyny, classism, xenophobia, queer- and trans-hatred, hetero and binary normative beliefs, ageism, etc., and that violence is always the responsibility of the perpetrator. 

Using a broad spectrum of teaching methods adaptive for all communities – from hand-to-hand combat to art and journaling – we teach de-escalation, up-stander training, civil disobedience, workplace violence, allyship (a person or group that provides assistance and support), and more. 

Artemis receives invitations from all directions: girl scouts, sex worker collectives, senior centers, programs for survivors of violence and trauma, and the community at large.

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