With Thanksgiving and Black Friday next week, I thought I’d touch on the gift giving season. It’s hard not to be swept up in the ever-increasing commercialization of the holidays. Personally, it feels like the holidays often boil down to scheduling chaos, overspending on gifts, and not enough time spent reflecting on what truly matters (family / faith / etc.).

There is a lot of research out there that suggests that people are happier when we invest in life experiences as opposed to more “stuff.” Here an exerpt from a recent study:

1The researchers concluded that people are happier with experiential purchases over material ones irrespective of when you measure happiness: before, during or after consumption. Experiences also provoke more satisfaction even though people typically spend more time using their material possessions. The researchers said a possible explanation is the endurance of experiences in people’s memories, while the perceived value of material goods weakens over time.

I am always trying to do this with our kids – more experiences and less stuff. For the folks out there with kids/grandkids/nieces and nephews, here is a list of ideas for investing in experiences/relationships instead of buying more “stuff” this holiday season.

1. A book bundle from a local bookstore + promise of nightly reading

2. Gift card to a restaurant + promise of night out together

3. Kid friendly cooking set + day of baking together

4. Streaming services for a year—we love Disney+ + movie night together

5. Pass to the zoo + day at the zoo

6. Local + national state park passes for a year + promise of camping trip

7. Plane or train ticket to visit someone special (grandma, aunt, etc.).


What are some great gifts that you’ve given that “invest” in relationships?


1 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130020.htm

Leave a Comment