Give Presents and Presence

Gift giving is not about the gift. It is an expression of love, gratitude, appreciation and generosity. Material items are often the “go to” but we underestimate gifts of presence, calm, time and energy.

This year, thoughtfully combine gifts of experience with something to enrich it! Enjoy these seven ideas for all ages:

Owl prowl. When darkness falls early and you can protect bedtime, go outside! Gift kids the experience of a neighbourhood walk at dusk. Listen for owls like the more common Barred and Great Horned species. You don’t need to be an expert. Enjoy the chance to experience your senses at night. You’ll probably notice bats and other nocturnal creatures!

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Gift item: Reflective vest, armband light, or head lamp. Give a membership to organizations like the Rocky Point Observatory and enjoy an event together like owl banding at night. Throw in a thermos and hot chocolate with marshmallows, too.

Pebble hunt. Gift a rock hunting experience! A beach day or two is plenty of time to collect volcanic rock, basalt, chert, mica schist, quartz and more. You’ll learn to identify rocks and look at stones, rocks and pebbles in a whole new way.

Gift item: A Field Guide to the Identification of Pebbles by Eileen Van der Flier Keller, a magnifying glass or pocket scope, and decorative treasure box. Also consider a Rock and Mineral Test Kit. The University of Victoria bookstore sells a kit with basic tools for hands-on rock, mineral and fossil identification. The kit includes “a streak plate, glass plate, hand lens, dropper bottle, magnet, nail, penny (from more recent decades) and a harness scale in a resealable transparent pouch.” Might as well also throw in a copy of Everybody Need a Rock by Byrd Baylor.

Tide pooling. We are blessed with countless beaches and tide pools. Vancouver Island is home to many species of sea stars, crustaceans, mollusks, segmented worms, seaweed and more. Treat the children in your life to a day of tide pool viewing. A trip to Botanical Beach guarantees lifelong memories. Always check the tide table and road conditions first. Do not remove any critters!

Gift item: Marine Life of British Columbia Field Sheets by David S. Young.

Sky watch. Light pollution, a side effect of the industrial revolution, has our cities glowing at night. Plan a late-night escape to the countryside to watch the stars in your pajamas. Or book a camping trip and stay up to star gaze.

Gift item: Star finder or star wheel. It’s a multilayered cardboard disk that lets you dial in the current date and time. Then you can see a map of the naked-eye sky at that exact moment! Also, source a few books or field guides to the stars.

Felt together. Needle felting is a great way to be creative and reduce stress, and anxiety. It’s also a lot of fun to do with someone you love.

Gift item: Buy pre-made beginner felting kits from a local fiber store or wool shop. Or, gift a workshop series with in person instruction.

Dye Ukrainian eggs (pysanky). For the artist in you, those reclaiming their Ukrainian roots and those seeking to support Ukraine. This ancient pass time decorates eggs with symbols to carry meaning and good wishes is both fun and challenging. It’s a peaceful way to connect with family or friends.

Gift item: Buy a beginner pysanky kit which comes with dyes, a kistka, beeswax and instructions. Check out options from and check out books from the library to learn more.

Carve as a family. Choose your favourite animal to carve from soapstone. This hands-on activity is rewarding and excellent to do as a family. It’s a lovely keepsake for time well spent, together.

Gift: Studiostone Creative kits have everything you need. They are made in Vancouver and are usually for 8 years old and up.

Lindsay Coulter
Lindsay Coulter
Lindsay Coulter is a writer, educator, facilitator, naturalist, creator of culture, soul activist, and mother of two. She’s the co-founder of EPIC Learning Community a forest and nature school in Victoria, B.C., Program Coordinator at Victoria Nature School and in the process of attaining her certification in Equine Facilitated Wellness.