As you do your holiday shopping, consider buying experiences for the people on your list, instead of material things, if you truly want to make them happy.
An extensive amount of research has shown that experiences actually bring people more happiness than material goods, which can be explained by a number of reasons:
- The happiness spike for material items is short-lived, whereas experiences produce joy during the anticipation of the experience, the actual experience itself, and then from the memories afterwards
- Experiences tend to bring us together with other people, and social connection is another key to happiness
- Experiences often lead to better stories and conversations, helping us to relive the experience and bond with others (even if they weren't there for the actual experience)
- Experiences are more likely to be defining moments in our life, and associated with how we see ourselves or who we want to be
- Experiences are often more unique and distinctive when compared to material items
So instead of a new shirt or watch, or even a new car, consider these gift ideas instead:
- A special meal
- Sports or concert tickets
- A trip
- Lessons to learn a new skill (sports, music, language, cooking, etc.)
- Theater, Movie, or Museum tickets
- A gym membership or exercise classes
- Wine tasting
Better yet, improve your relationship with the people on your list by taking part in the experiences with them. A dinner with friends or a night out to enjoy live music can be a lot more impactful and memorable than a new iPod or laptop.
If an actual experience isn't possible or out of your price range, then opt for products that will lead to an experience. Experience-oriented products that help people learn or develop new skills (such as books, sporting goods, or musical instruments) have been shown to increase happiness and well-being.
Bottom line: Keep experiences top of mind this holiday season and you'll make everyone on your list happier as a result!