If you’re like many people, this time of year marks the start of your hunt for the best holiday gift ideas for friends, family and coworkers. But instead of hitting the mall this season, why not give someone an experience they’ll never forget?
Gifting an experience is a win-win for both parties. You don’t need to stress about what to buy, find the time to shop around or spend a ton of money — and your recipient will likely value the experience more than a store-bought gift. In fact, there’s actually science behind why experiences mean more!
The Financial Benefits of Choosing Experiences Over Stuff
Because we quickly get bored of what we possess (and tend to want bigger and better things once we do,) focusing on material holiday gifts can cause us to spend a lot of money. Experiences don’t need to be nearly as expensive in order for us to enjoy them. In fact, some experiences are completely free!
Why Experiences Provide More Value
It’s often said that money can’t buy happiness. That’s certainly true when you talk about “stuff.” We often experience buyer’s remorse, and it can be stressful managing all of our clutter. Even the newest, most exciting things tend to lose their luster once we get used to them.
Interestingly, there’s a scientific reason why this happens. “Hedonic adaptation” means that we have a tendency to drift back to our emotional baseline, no matter how happy something makes us in the moment, according to Psychology Today.
On the other hand, money can buy happiness when you use it to create experiences. According to Co.Exist, experiences connect us to who we are and to each other. Our enjoyment of an experience also lasts longer in our minds than the enjoyment of a new thing.
The Atlantic explains that anticipation is a big reason why experiences have the edge over material gifts. It’s not just the event — it’s also the time leading up to it. And beyond the anticipation and enjoyment of the experience itself, you’ll also be giving your loved one a host of fond memories they can cherish forever.
Making the Most of Experiences as Gifts
So, what kinds of experiences can you gift? Try one of these ideas:
- Treat a friend to a class or register together
- Offer a few nights of babysitting to give new parents a break
- Chat with your family about dream destinations and budgets, then plan a trip together
- Do something fun and seasonal together, like baking cookies, making decorations or enjoying a holiday fair or festival
- Give a membership or subscription to something they enjoy, like a local museum, or tickets to local events
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Gifting experiences can be a wallet-friendly alternative to giving material things, but the benefits aren’t just financial. By giving your loved ones experiences this holiday season, you’ll be giving them incredible memories, which will last long after the presents are opened and the decorations are put away.