It’s a commonly repeated phrase, especially this time of year, that the greatest gift is the gift of time. I don’t know if that’s universally true, but I think it’s pretty often true.

A gift-giving practice that has worked out pretty great for my sister and myself in the past few years has been planning fun activities to do together, instead of giving each other more Stuff. Both of us have a lot of recent experience with moving (her more than me, but still) and since we only see each other a few times a year it’s nice to set aside some sister-bonding time. Depending on what’s going on, and how flush we’re feeling, these events have ranged from a typical dinner-and-a-movie dates (or drinks-and-This-American-Life-Live!) to bigger events involving more planning and coordination.

One year we splurged on tickets to see Wicked in Chicago, and followed it up with delicious fondue from The Melting Pot. We had a great time, even on the walk from the Oriental to the restaurant on a truly freezing January day. Of course, we rewarded ourselves for our fortitude:

Bottle of Kenwood Sparkling Wine at the Melting Pot
Sparkling Wine!!

Two years ago we set aside a little more time for an overnight trip to Madison, which was fantastic. We visited the UW Geology Museum and a local botanic garden, ate at a fun restaurant she knew about, went snowshoeing at a state park, and enjoyed some New Glarus Spotted Cow* and cheese curds over a Barcelona game.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Me at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens

This year our plans are still up in the air, since we’ve both got other things going on during our brief time overlapping at home. It’ll probably be another variation on the Food+Entertainment pairing, but I’m sure whatever it is, it’ll be a great time.

* Second best beer ever. After New Glarus Fat Squirrel.