Why do People Prefer Experiences to Material Gifts?

By  //  May 15, 2022

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We select presents with the aim of bringing joy, yet despite our best efforts, we may fall short because the time-consuming procedure draws us back to tangible objects that do not always bring satisfaction.

This year, more Australians will spend about $1000 on Christmas gifts, with roughly $620 of it being undesired by the receiver. Instead, experiential gifts are increasingly gaining popularity among both givers and recipients.

Recently, the psychology of gift-giving and its ties to consumerism has become a popular topic of study for psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists. Here are four reasons why we’re moving toward experience gifts rather than material items.

Long-Lasting Joy. Experiences give the gift of anticipation, moments and memories. The best thing about experiences is how long they last. Delivering the gift of an experience implies giving long-lasting delight, which is made up of the anticipation of the experience, the experience itself, the moments it delivers, and the memories that stay.

The gift of experiences are often better gifts than the more traditional material gifts, which tend to give us fleeting pleasure and usually only make us unhappier when we become used to them and then want something newer, better to replace it. Experiences last forever in our memories, and often these memories grow stronger over time.

Part of the anticipation is a sense of imagination and wonder, which in today’s world is refreshing, yet infrequent. Having an experience gifts joy to your life that is limitless and has so much potential.

Experience becomes a part of one’s self before, during and after the experience itself. We all have too much ‘stuff’. Today, most people feel that they simply have too much stuff and in most cases, they are probably right.

We all have stuff that we purchase and never use. When it comes to clothes, shoes, bags and accessories, it seems to happen more than most other types of purchases. Consider this – a study undertaken by the Australian Institute in 2016 titled ‘Stuff Happens’ determined that Australia-wide, Annually, we spend $10.5 billion on things that are purchased but never utilised. 

This is frequently the case when purchasing gifts for family members, acquaintances, or coworkers — we don’t always know precisely what they would want to receive., so we choose to give them a thoughtful material gift that has some thought behind it.

This is frequently the case when purchasing gifts for family members, acquaintances, or coworkers — we don’t always know what they would want to receive, so we prefer to offer them a nice tangible gift with some thinking behind it. 

Buy something basic and personalized if you want to get through that part of the gift-buying process fast. Purchase a low-cost present item, such as a lovely scarf or key ring, and include a brief message about what the receiver is up to in their life. That’s the type of present they’ll appreciate and utilise, and it will benefit both them and you.We currently have more possessions than at any previous moment in human history, but statistics show that we are less fulfilled and joyful. Our lives have become increasingly hectic and dissatisfying. 

Adaptation. We begin to adjust to the existence and ownership of a tangible object as soon as we get it. We lose interest in things we are constantly exposed to. We discover that what we formerly valued has become obsolete and has been replaced by something else to which we may give new significance. 

We don’t adapt to experiences we haven’t experienced, but once we have, they stay with us in a nonphysical sense, and our affection for them grows and develops —as with all things, the memory is sometimes even more joyful than the moment itself.

Connecting with others through relationships. An experience, a gift, or a relationship can elicit far more emotion than a physical gift. That means they’re better for building relationships in the gift-giving process.

This is a wonderful way to make someone’s day even brighter. It brings a genuine sense of satisfaction with their gift decision – they get to anticipate their loved ones excitement, which is just as great as theirs.

In giving, it should always be based on relationships and emotional connections and experiences. The memories one gains in the moment of their experience, will be forever attributed to the person that gave them the gift.

Give the gift that lasts. Spend time giving gifts of anticipation, of long-lasting joy, of joy in anticipation, moments and memories – and of emotional connections.