The odds are that as we come up to one of the big gift giving seasons, you’re stumped for ideas on exactly what to get some of your friends and family. The build up to the holiday season is usually accompanied by some wracking of brains, drumming of fingers, and the endless question of what goods to give to your loved ones.
What’s in a gift?
What does a gift mean to you, in your heart of hearts? For some people, it’s a sign of a shared bond. For most, it’s an expression of worth: you mean something to me, and I’m expressing it back to you.
For most, it’s a combination of pleasure and anticipation, mixed in with the feelings you have towards the gift giver – no matter who they are.
A handmade gift from a child or a birthday card to their parent isn’t an expensive item, and it doesn’t have any monetary worth, but it’s a precious object that reflects the time and care put into the gift on a personal level.
Whether you’re tied to the physical gift already or not, the fact is that gifts are already experiences. They’re influenced by, and thought of as, an event between two people rather than an object.
We value experiences
The results are in! As humans we value experiences over material objects – and this is scientifically proven. Although we do love to see nice things hung on our wall or beautiful objects held in our hands, in the long run, experiences are the true things we, as humans, truly cherish.
The fact is that no matter how much we love an item, our love for that item diminishes. But with an amazing experience, we always have that great memory of it. And in fact, our memory of that positive experience can sometimes even grow in retrospect.
Looking back at an experience and feeling awash with nostalgia and positivity is a subject that has been written about in psychology reports and throughout the history of literature. Fyodor Dostoyevsky referred to it as a sacred memory.
Imagine then, if you gave or received a wonderful massage voucher as a gift. If you received this gift, you’ll remember how nice it was that somebody went out of their way to offer up not only a gift, but also the thought of providing you with a positive experience. This experiential gift essentially says “I wish you relaxation, time out and joy”. And isn’t that the most valuable gift we can give someone?
Material items have a shelf life
Things break, tear, wear, grow old, and become outdated. Plus, if you receive a gift that isn’t completely and totally what you want it to be, you’re unlikely to be able to return it (unfortunately!).
You don’t have to find a spot in the cupboard for an experience, and you don’t have to wash a memory free of a stubborn stain.
And the best part is, you get to enjoy an experience gift twice – once when you have the joy and excitement of receiving it from your loved one, and again when you actually take part in the experience.
Experience: a gift forever
In a time where most people are run off their feet, perhaps it might be time to gift someone a timeout, a moment of bliss, rather than an object. And sometimes it takes a loved one giving us the gift of a joyous treatment before we allow ourselves to sit back and relax for a few moments. So whether you’re the gift giver this year, or someone asks you what’s on your list for Santa, remember to think about an experience rather than another item this year.