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Gift Ideas: Meal Out VS Day Out

When it comes to gift ideas, how many times have you taken someone out for dinner as a birthday treat? Quite a few I’d imagine. But why do we tend to give food as a gift, when a day out is often cheaper, healthier and has better memories associated with it?

This article looks at how we’re all a little bit guilty of comfort eating and readily choose food over going outdoors, being cold and getting dirty.

Meals Out

When it comes to gift ideas, experience days are all the rage right now and not just bungee jumping, monster truck driving or paintballing, but also food and drink experiences as well, with afternoon tea topping the bill on most of these sorts of sites.

Does that make a great gift for someone?

Recently I won an afternoon tea for two at the Dorchester hotel in a raffle. But because it was my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, I gave it to them to accompany the West End theatre show they’d booked to celebrate.

Now I’ve had ‘high tea’ before, so this didn’t seem anything special to me, apart from the Dorchester being one of London’s leading hotels and that it overlooks the nicer end of Hyde Park.

However, my parents told me what a wonderful time they’d had. Not only that the sandwiches, scones and cakes were delicious, but that the hotel was beautiful the arm chairs comfy and the staff incredibly entertaining. The fact that they’d saved me some cake was even better.

Normally I would take my Dad out for a curry on his Birthday, so giving the gift of good food while not being there to enjoy it too was an unusual feeling.

Days Out

By contrast my parents were looking at all manner of 50th birthday gift ideas for my Dad. He had his heart set on a steam train driving experience. Mum, not wanting to shovel coal, suggested that Dad take me along for the day instead.

It turned into one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. And doing it all with my Dad made it even better.

I fondly remember the train pulling into the station, flooding the platform with smoke, before another father and son, both grinning like fools, stepped down from the cab. Then it was our turn!

The soot, the smell, the roaring heat of the fire and the cold chill of the wind and rain blowing in from the sides of the cab made just being inside an experience in itself. But sticking your head sideways out of the window and looking along the track as the steam train thundered along, while the countryside rolled past, thick white smoke billowed out from the funnel atop the front of the boiler and the rain lashed in your face was incredible.

After half an hour, we stopped off at an old abandoned station up the way, tucked into a bacon sandwich and downed a cup of tea before climbing back aboard, swapping jobs and driving all the way back, before pulling into the station, flooding the platform with smoke and climbing down from the cab, both grinning like fools.

Food Gifts or Experience Gifts?

Both are good, but which is best will depend entirely on the person you’re thinking of buying for.

For example, Dad would love Go Karting, but my Mum would hate it. Meanwhile, Mum would love a Spa day, but Dad would be bored out of his mind.

But generally food experiences are definitely more sedate and typically suited to times of the year when you don’t want to be outdoors. Experience days on the other hand are great for the warmer (and drier) Spring and Summer months because they mostly take place outdoors.

But maybe experience gifts are the better choice, because you can always go for food afterwards?

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