It's so easy to get swept along in the frenzy of shopping malls, tinsel and wrapping paper. Trying to find the perfect gift for each friend and family member can become an exhausting challenge rather than a heartfelt expression.

Yet there may be a few people on your list who really don't need another sweater, scarf or coffee mug. Why not give them a gift of memories instead? To find some inspiration, think back to what was most memorable for you this year. Here's some of my favorite moments:

My favorite memories from 2019

Anna had lots of fun making her own cookies while the rest of us baked mince pies. (A few men may have been decapitated or left as amputees mind you!)

  • Our son's wedding in May: the smiles, the laughter, the love
  • Watching the sunset as we camped in the desert
  • Marveling at the stars in the summer night sky
  • Listening to live music at a winery with special friends
  • Watching our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter make gingerbread man cookies
  • Walking along the beach and listening to the waves
  • Seeing Elton John in concert with my daughter
  • Introducing my husband to my favorite garden – Chanticleer
  • Re-visiting old haunts in England with a friend
  • Swimming in the lake with our puppy

Jill and I have known each other since we were four years old! Such a treat to have her here for Thanksgiving – so many new memories to treasure.

The last two weeks have been full of special memories; my childhood best friend, Jill came to visit from England. There were leisurely lunches at a favorite nursery and a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with our growing family around the table. There was a visit to the Garden D'Lights display at Bellevue Botanical Garden with the magical surprise of a male voice choir singing carols that brought tears to my eyes. We watched a parade and falling 'snow' at Snowflake Lane. Together we decorated our home for Christmas and savored long chats over endless cups of tea. We baked mince pies together – and worked off the calories at the gym together. There were lots of laughs, lots of hugs (both human and puppy) plus a few tears. It was priceless – and the best gift of memories to both myself and to Jill.

Memories and Gardens

The sheer beauty and artistry of Chanticleer

I know this is a blog about garden design so you may be wondering why I've gone off topic this week. Yet I haven't really. You see, as a landscape designer my desire is always to create gardens that can be experienced, not just observed. I love to create spaces where you can engage all your senses. Textures to touch, scents that drift on the breeze, bubbling fountains that entice the birds and of course colors to stimulate or to encourage relaxation. Such gardens can bring mental and physical healing as well as joy. They provide the space and opportunity to be alone or to be with others. They provide the space and opportunity to create memories.

I also love to visit other gardens, both large public gardens and smaller private ones. I take note of intriguing plant combinations, color schemes, container designs, patio designs, innovative use of ordinary materials, and artistic details. Chanticleer is exceptional in that regard but ideas are everywhere if we care to look.

Consider giving experiences rather than more "stuff" this year.

Come and experience Chanticleer with us next year

  • A photography course/workshop (with a focus on gardens, wildlife, birds, landscapes)
  • A class (cookery, floral design, container gardening – online courses or in-house)
  • Membership to a favorite botanical garden or horticultural organization
  • Tickets to a special event or concert (music, ballet, theater, an open garden, garden show)
  • Subscription to a favorite gardening magazine (print or digital e.g. Fine Gardening or Gardener's World)
  • An adventure (a day trip, weekend or longer. Check out our upcoming trip to the Gardens of the Brandywine & Delaware Valleys and come with us to Chanticleer next year! )

Gift Wrap Ideas

My daughter created this "ticket" using In Design and PhotoShop

  • Create your own special ticket or certificate using a free online program such as Canva
  • Purchase a related Holiday ornament and tie the "ticket" onto it e.g.
    • Nutcracker ornament + tickets for the Nutcracker ballet
    • Tiny watering can + tickets for a garden show/tour/class
    • A musical instrument ornament + tickets for a concert
    • A small framed landscape or scene + travel certificate
    • A cookie cutter + cookery class certificate

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I now realize how precious these experiences are and I treasure each special moment and re-live the memories for years. Maybe you feel the same way?

What gift of memories will you give this year?

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2 Comments

  1. Linda Klose on December 11, 2019 at 5:13 am

    I always enjoy your posts but particularly loved this one. As I read it I am sitting in my sister's living room with my morning coffee. I flew here to attend the funeral of a deeply loved Uncle. Time with special friends and family truly are special gifts. Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing this post.



    • Karen Chapman on December 11, 2019 at 9:29 am

      I'm so sorry to hear your news Linda. Treasure the family time.