By Sia Papadopoulos
Known as the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays, can also become the most stressful time of the year. Finding gifts for friends and family, when done with extra thought, can become challenging and even frustrating. With long line ups, to overplayed Christmas music, the season of gift-giving is not as enjoyable as it should be. Instead of spending extra money on material gifts, researchers are showing the benefits of buying your loved ones an experience this year.
As the holidays approach, we as consumers, are bombarded with sales and promotions to encourage our spending on materialistic items. Research shows that no matter how many items we buy, “the observation that material gains fail to produce lasting increases in happiness has become painfully salient in recent decades, as Americans, in particular, have attained unprecedented levels of material abundance with little or no improvement in happiness” Along with our American neighbours, Canadians too have become consumed with materialism. Many of us are forgetting the lasting memories that could be made with friends and family, by buying a gift that could be enjoyed together.
As Canadians continue to go over budget each year on their holiday spending, it is time to make use of the money that is spent on gifts. In a research study conducted by, Paulina Pchelin and Ryan Howell, “participants forecasted and experience more hedonic well-being, eudaimonic well-being, and positive emotions from their experiential purchases compared to their material purchases” Although participants felt as though they would get more out of material gifts, the memories of an experience created a lasting happiness, and an overall increase in well-being. What if I told you, you could skip the chaotic shopping mall this year and still buy your loved one the perfect gift?
If you’re looking for a gift that will help strengthen a relationship with your family or friends, an experiential gift is the present to buy. Not only will you be giving them a present that you personalized just for them, but you will be able to experience the gift with them (if you choose). Although a material item may be meaningful, and thoughtful, there isn’t anything that would compare to a gift that would create a long-lasting memory for you and your gift receiver.
Another research study conducted by Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich found after multiple surveys, that experiences are are more open to positive reinterpretations, become part of one’s identity, and strengthen social relationships. Not only do experiential gifts help foster relationships and strengthen bonds, but as the research study found, they are great conversation starters for future social encounters.
“[Experiences] are more pleasurable to talk about and they more effectively foster successful social relationships, which are closely associated with happiness” – Boven and Gilovich
Don’t feel like you need to spend a fortune to buy an experiential gift. There are multiple gifts that could fit within your budget, whether it be a trip overseas, trip to the spa, a concert, a cooking class, an art class, or a skating adventure, there is definitely something for everybody. Consider making memories, instead of buying materialistic items during the holidays this year, as the benefits are proven by research to strengthen the bond in relationships and boost happiness.