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Why Gifting Experiences Will Outweigh Gifting Things Every Time

collect moments not things

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Shiny new things are always a go-to for gifts, but their enchantment can wear off once they’re no longer shiny and new. Research shows satisfaction with material things wanes over time, although satisfaction with experiences has the power to do just the opposite. Memories of experiences can grow fonder over the years, giving folks a gift to enjoy for a lifetime.

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Why Experiential Gifts Outweigh Material Ones

New things eventually turn old, becoming part of the ordinary, daily life, explains Cornell University psychology professor Thomas Gilovich. People adapt to the new stereo, new cashmere overcoat – even the new BMW. (Although surely a few of your friends wouldn’t mind if you gifted them a new BMW!)

While things can eventually become clutter in people’s closets, experiences become ingrained in their identity. People happily recall positive experiences, and even the negative experiences can play a useful role if people talk about them and turn them into humorous anecdotes.

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Who had these cluttered in their closet in their teens? Not me. Nope. Definitely don’t horde stuffed animals from when I was 8; I was a cool kid. Super cool.

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Giving experiences as a gift also gives recipients connections. They enjoy a connection with people who share the experience with them at the time, as well as with people they will meet who have had similar experiences. You’ll find it much easier to bond with someone who went snorkeling in the Bahamas like you did, for example, than with someone who also happens to own the same type of iPad as you do.

Types of Experiential Gifts to Give

Gift cards to someone’s favorite restaurant or coffee shop can work as experiential gifts, although they may be a bit more like stocking stuffers compared to the more elaborate options. These can include:

Airline Tickets:

Send a pal to Tibet, Paris, Indonesia or even across the U.S. with roundtrip tickets to an enticing destination. Since picking exact dates and destinations can be tricky, you can go for gift cards available from many airlines that let recipients book their trips whenever they’re ready.

Magazine Subscriptions:

Subscriptions to magazines, especially those that feature an interest you have in common, can act as an ongoing conversation between you and the recipient throughout the year.

Ticketmaster Gift Certificates:

Whether your pals enjoy concerts, theater or sporting events, you can let them pick their live entertainment events of choice with generous Ticketmaster Gift Cards.

ClassPass Subscription:

Grace your fitness fanatic friends with subscriptions to ClassPass, a monthly membership plan that gives users entry into more than 8,000 fitness studios in 39 cities across the world.

Adventures, Adventures, and More Adventures:

Outdoorsy pals could get a massively thrilling kick out of a gift card from American Adventure Expeditions. Adventure options include river adventures, mountain adventures or full adventure packages, with levels that span from beginner to advanced, and lengths that range from about 90 minutes to an overnight trip.

Experiential Gifts Reduce Waste

One more point to keep in mind as you’re choosing the perfect gift is that Americans are consuming two times the amount of material goods they did 50 years ago, yet are statistically less happy. More than half the population says they’ve overwhelmed by clutter, with nearly 80 percent having no idea how to deal with it. You have the answer with experiential gifts, which are wholly clutter-free as well as truly memorable – especially if you go for adrenaline-packed American Adventure Expeditions.

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