Why the Best Things in Life are Never Things!
Experiences, rather than 'things', are the gifts that will keep giving a long time after a present is given.
The best things in life are never things is surely such an obvious statement that there is an argument as to whether it’s a fact we should even be considering as yes, of course, the best things in life are never things. We all know it. We all would rather spend time with our families and hang out rather than playing with inanimate objects, right? Wrong!
Consider how many people would rather sit on their screens for meal times alone! 59% of people said they always or often eat in front of a screen. That’s the not the behaviour of a generation of people that would rather be away from ‘things’!
Outside factors influence our spending enormously and in the current economic climate with a war continuing and the worry about the choice between eating and heating, we’re not in a great state!
Even though you may think there is no correlation between the uncertain future and material goods, in a paper published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, Knox College psychology professor Tim Kasser says “When we’re feeling insecure we orient towards materialistic solutions….and we live in a culture that continually tells us our worth as people is based on our bank account.”
Keeping up with the Joneses means that we don’t necessarily buy thoughtfully for others and ourselves, we buy to show our worth and that to others. But that isn’t going to create any kind of impact for the recipient!
And that’s where the experience day gift comes into play and is most valuable. According to Inviqa, 85% of us really consider the gift suitability when it comes to picking a gift. So that means that we do give consideration to what we’re going to buy, however, is it the right consideration for that person?
Buying someone another pair of slippers because they like to have warm feet isn’t necessarily thinking a great deal about that person. It’s more about giving a quick shallow thought to a human form of survival, to keep warm which we all have and one that’s doesn’t take much head scratching to get to!
However, we are evolving into a power spending generation buying what we want, when we want so buying gifts for someone else has become extremely difficult as more often than not, the person you want to buy for has everything they need!
So how do we make sure that the gift we are going to buy is one that has an relevance and adds value to the recipients life? You buy happiness!
Can I Really Buy Happiness?
It's not as easy as it sounds as you can't just pop down to Asda and pick up a jar of happiness! Buying happiness takes time and effort and some real thought. But once you hit the right formula, you won't only be buying happiness as a gift, you’ll be creating memories that stay with that person forever.
Experience day gifts are twofold. They not only provide the recipient with an opportunity to either try something completely new or extend their love for a hobby they do often, but they also can improve your relationship with the family member or friend you're giving it too.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Consumer Research by Cindy Chan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, and Cassie Mogilner, an associate professor at UCLA, says experiential gifts are more emotional and effective at improving relationships.
"An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it — like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa — and is more intensely emotional than a material possession," says Chan.
This is again, proving that really considering what the receiver would like is so valuable and has so many benefits.
So What is an Experience Day?
An experience day is where you go to a location to try out something where you have to actually do something! For example:
• Pottery making
• Segway trips
• Land yachting
• Afternoon tea on a bus
• Gin tours
All of these days out require you to take part in an activity and not necessarily leave the day with anything physical in your hand (unless you do an activity where you make items such as forge making, photo shoot experiences etc)
Buying an experience day gift is proven to make our friends and family happier, as people prefer experiences according to research. So why is this?
An essential part of a gift experience is the time you wait for it to take place as the expectation is almost like a bonus part of the gift. You’re also effectively giving two gifts as you give the physical present in the form of a voucher, then they have the actual experience day gift to complete!
Despite research from 2014 showing that we believed that material gifts would make us happier and would be better value for money, it became apparent that experiences made us happier in the end. As we prefer to go for value for money, which is generally thought to be material items, if you prioritise happiness over value, you’ll choose experiences.
Social Connection not Scrolling on Social Media!
By choosing gifts like experience days over material goods, we are displaying what scientists call ‘social connectedness’ in that we're helping create time with our loved ones as you’re more likely to partake in days out with other people, in turn meaning that you are creating great memories together.
These kind of gifts also help decrease the feeling that we’re being left out! As humans we always compare to others despite the fact we might be holding the latest, top of the range gadget for example. It’s because we always compare our gifts to others, whereas receiving an experience doesn’t garner the same sort of jealousy.
Avoid the ‘hedonic treadmill’ where we get used to new things very quickly. Create long lasting memories that not only evoke a sense of being loved, but show that special person in your life that you’ve thought of them and really spent time choosing the best gift for them, which has to be an experience day…or at least not something that can end up in landfill in one year!