Is there someone on your list you’d like to give something really special to this holiday season? Here’s the best gift-giving advice you’re going to hear: people get a lot more enjoyment from experiences than from possessions.
Maybe that sounds like a greeting card or a fridge magnet, but it’s true—multiple studies have proven that material things just don’t deliver the same level of lasting enjoyment. One study from Cornell University asked research participants to recall either a significant experiential or material purchase and talk about how much satisfaction they derived from it. Not that surprisingly, people had enjoyed their experiences more.
Why? Well, a lot of it has to do with the fact that we can easily compare our possessions to those of others, but memories are completely our own. It’s easy to tell which gifts are “worse” when you’re able to stack price tags against one another—which phone is newer, which television is larger—but you can’t really compare experiences. The subjectivity eliminates the competition that’s inherent in so much gift giving and receiving.
Furthermore, people are less likely to second guess an experiential purchase than they might second guess their choice of a commodity. You don’t get buyer’s remorse when it comes to trips, adventures, or trying new things because no one wishes they could return or exchange their memories the way they might a designer bag.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the anticipation of an experience is much sweeter and stronger than the anticipation of a possession, and the joy of the memory can last as long as a lifetime. It might seem like a week-long trip doesn’t last you as long as a new car or a nice coat, but in actuality outlive any material thing.
A lot of this has to do with imagination and recollection. When you anticipate a possession, you probably know pretty much what you’re going to get, but when you are looking forward to an experience, you have less of an idea what to expect and this engages you up until you actually “receive” the experience. People spend a lot more time imagining their trip to an anticipated restaurant than the arrival of their iPad. And even after it’s “over,” the memories will only serve to enrich the rest of your life as you recall the experience. Even bad memories, like a rained-out wedding day, can one day be either amusing or at least interesting.
Importantly, you’re also able to relive those memories when you tell others the story of your experiences—and people like hearing stories about glaciers a lot more than they do stories about your new shoes.
If you’re hoping to give experiences, not things, this holiday season, we recommend one of our Trekking trips! You don’t have to be a professional mountaineer for this level of mountaineering, and your experienced guide Craig Van Hoy is an expert at opening up the borders of the world’s wilds for curious adventurers. As long as the participants are able-bodied adults with some mountain climbing experience, our Treks are perfectly suitable for you and your son, daughter, spouse, parent, or close friend—or whoever you think deserves a gift that will last them a lifetime.