This Holiday Season Don’t Buy Things…Only Experiences

Experience vs Things

I just celebrated by 21rst birthday (hehe), okay 41st. I spent the weekend with my long-time partner Keith, wine tasting in Paso Robles. It was wonderful to spend a couple of days with my love, sipping wine, staying quiet, and reveling in the vineyards’ beauty. That was my gift–the experience of a new memory with the man of my dreams. My birthday falls about a month before Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), which, for some, is sadly overshadowed by my least favorite day “Black Friday”.

The holidays are meant to be a time of basking in the glow of love, family, and friends not obsessing over the acquisition of things we and others don’t need.  Keith and I have adopted a no-gifting-things policy.  We are committed to spending our money gifting each other “experiences” verses “things”. Come birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries we gift one another a winery tour, a weekend getaway, or my personal favorite thus far, tickets to a concert series at the La Jolla Birch Aquarium. We have enjoyed creating memories together verses giving jewelry, shoes, electronics… things that will all fade away quickly.

There is ample research behind happiness and the insatiable pursuit thereof. A case study conducted by Gallup proves spending money on things will not make you happier. The study shows that “buying experiences such as going out to dinner or taking a vacation are far more effective at increasing our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others is. Experiences last while material purchases fade. Even if you feel better immediately after your purchase, studies show that our satisfaction with material goods decreases over time. But if we use our money to buy pleasant experiences, we get the benefit of looking forward to the event, the actual experience, and in some cases, decades of fond memories. Material items lose their novelty, but we can relive memories indefinitely. Even brief experiential purchases such as dining out or going to a movie increase our wellbeing. In addition to satisfying our need for social time, we are less likely to regret experiential purchases, which increase our satisfaction with these decisions over time”

I found it interesting that the more money you make, the fewer things you should buy as Gallup supports, “As income levels increase, experiential purchases produce two to three times the levels of wellbeing when compared to material purchases.”
Every Hollywood celebrity needs to read this.
We don’t get bored with fond memories like we do with tangible objects. And we don’t second-guess whether we should have made a different decision, as we do with material things. When we purchase meaningful experiences, it buys us memories that continue to grow, and we get more out of every dollar we spend.”

 My team and I have adopted this policy for our gift giving. At the end of the year, each team member received $150 from me and is matched with a person on our team to spend it on. They are responsible for getting to know that team-member and figuring out what amazing experience they can gift; truly a gift that keeps on giving.

There is always someone who is impossible to shop for. We rack our brains over what to get that special someone, especially the person who “seems to have it all”. I challenge you to gift them an experience, horseback riding lessons, a night stay at a new hotel, or something they’ve been dying to try but didn’t have the resources or time to do it. Your gift will last longer than any gadget, tennis bracelet, or bottle of wine and their life will forever be enhanced by their opportunity to try something new.

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