If we asked you to close your eyes and imagine the moment you give or receive a gift, you most likely think of a gift box or bag with a material present inside. And while it’s true that giving physical products is something that we have deeply rooted in our minds, many of us simply forget that giving experiences is also a great – and sometimes better! – option.
What do we mean by giving experiences?
First of all, let’s clarify the difference between a material gift and an experience. Gifting an experience is giving something to DO (go to the movies, to a concert, travel, skydive, get a massage, etc.); while gifting something material is giving something to HAVE (clothes, accessories, makeup, gadgets, objects).
Why do we say experiences are better than material gifts? Keep reading!
- They create long-term memories.
While material gifts physically last longer than experiences, experiences create memories that will last much longer. We think one of the reasons why is because experiences create more than one moment of emotion. Meaning, when you receive a material gift, you are excited and happy at the moment it is presented. However, with an experience you get excited and happy at the moment it is presented…and in the moments before the experience…and during the experience…and when you talk about it afterwards…and when you remember it – even years later!
If you know that your mom likes wine, what do you think she will remember for the longest: that you gave her a bottle of her favorite wine or that you went with her to a wine-tasting event? 😉
- Experiences feel like more personal gifts.
If you want to cause great excitement in the person who receives a gift, it must be a well-thought-out present that you know they will like. In the case of material gifts, you must know that person very well to choose the right gift and make it memorable, in addition to trying to find out what they do not already have. In the case of experiences, by having an idea about his/her personality, tastes, or preferences, you will likely be able to choose an experience that he/she will enjoy, even if it is an experience that they have already had before. And in the case of corporate gifts where you may be buying for a large group of people as opposed to individuals who you know well, there are experiences that practically everyone likes and they will feel more personal than receiving a material gift that has nothing to do with their tastes or preferences.
Who has not received a blender or some other appliance? It is very likely that you ended up giving it away or selling it. What if you had received a gift certificate for a massage instead? It is something that practically everyone likes and will feel like something much more personal.
- Waiting for the experience is part of the fun.
The time spent waiting between when you know you will enjoy an experience, until you actually live it, creates a delicious feeling of anticipation that is part of the memory that person will create around the experience. Obviously depending on the experience, the waiting period will vary.
If you are blindfolded and taken directly to a surprise experience, the thrill of anticipation will last for as long as the journey takes. But on the other hand, if you know that you have been gifted a romantic getaway for the following weekend, the thrill of anticipation lasts longer and is revived with each previous action that you must do, such as packing your suitcase, planning the trip, etc.🌎
- Experiences lead to longer-lasting happiness.
This goes hand in hand with point number 1, memories. According to psychological studies, in the long term, it is experiences that make people happier, not material possessions. This is partly because the initial joy of receiving a new object fades over time as people get used to seeing it every day. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to bring joy through memories, even long after the event has happened.
If you are gifted a perfume, of course you will appreciate it and enjoy it, but once you get used to wearing it, it will no longer give you that joy every time you use it. On the other hand, if you are gifted a trip, you will feel great joy every time you remember it.
- Experiences allow us to try new things.
Generally, as we go about our day-to-day routines, we don’t spend much (if any) time trying new things. So the gift of a new experience can provide us with that kick in the pants we may need to step out of the daily grind and shake things up! And even if the gifted experience is not new to us, we will still enjoy it for two reasons: first, they are usually not experiences that we do too frequently and second, even though it is an experience that we have already enjoyed before, each time we do it will have something that will make it unique.
If you are given a ticket to a concert, perhaps you have already been to a concert before, but the new experience will be totally unique because it is likely that the environment is different, the artist is different, the company is different, the show is different, your mood that day is different, etc.
So during the holidays this year, make sure you get your loved ones some cool experiences that you know they will appreciate. Even better if it’s something that can be done in a group so you can also join and be part of the experience too! Or better yet, involve the whole family – no shopping, no lines, no stress. Everyone enjoys, everyone wins! 💖