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Generous Ideas Blog

The Most Desirable Gift Doesn’t Come in a Box


Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. Bat Mitzvahs and quinceañeras. Thank yous, congratulations, and declarations of love.


There are many gift-giving and generosity-showing opportunities. In fact, in one year alone, we spend 2% of our annual income on gifts!


Our hearts may be in the right place, but new research shows that it doesn’t matter-- the gifts we give are oftentimes very, very wrong.


$70 billion wrong, according to retail statistics on returns during the holiday season!



Gift-Giving can be an Expensive So Do it Well

That figure seems astronomical. Billions in returns, really? But who hasn’t opened a gift and had to feign excitement? Who hasn’t spent hours waiting in line at the mall to return unwanted holiday gifts? Who hasn’t been a repeat (gasp!) re-gifter?


Traditional gift giving is basically doomed from the start. Because while the giver tends to focus on the moment of gift exchange when they pick out a gift-- hoping for that look of surprise on the recipient’s face-- the recipient wants something personal, something with long-term value.


There is a sure-fire way to get the gift-giving right. Research tells us to forget material gifts altogether and, instead, give the gift of an experience.


Simply put, gifts of experience (like a day at the spa or a weekend getaway) bring greater overall happiness than material gifts (like expensive flowers or a back massager).


There are three main reasons why this is the case:


1) People Simply Prefer Gifts of Experience

People are much more satisfied when they open a gift and realize they’ve been gifted an experience of some kind, than if the gift is something material.


And this satisfaction extends way beyond the initial opening of the gift.


While the joy and excitement someone feels when receiving a material gift can fade within just six weeks, the pleasure of receiving an experience lasts a lot longer.


In fact, it can last a lifetime.


2) The Gift of an Experience is the Gift of a Memory

The reason why experiential gifts could lead to greater satisfaction for a longer period of time is that the gift of an experience isn’t just the experience-- it’s the gift of a wonderful memory. And memories last a lifetime. What could have more long-term value than that?


Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, thinks that experiences are more desirable gifts because they give people the sense of "being alive.”


Experiences take us out of the rut of our day-to-day routines and allow us to try something new, indulge, relax, or have an adventure.


That’s something a box of chocolates could never do.


3) Gifts of Experience Build Relationships

Gifts of experience are also thought to be so satisfying because they help cultivate relationships, particularly between the giver and receiver.


Cindy Chan, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, recently studied the effects of gifting an experience and found that they are “more socially connecting” because they are “emotionally evocative.”


Experiences have an emotional impact, and this helps bring the giver and receiver closer together.


"People often struggle with the challenge of choosing what to give someone,” Chan stated. If you want to give them something that will make them feel closer to you, give an experience."


The Gift of Experience is the New Trend in Giving

Major magazines and news outlets have even begun to pick up on the recent research touting the superiority of experiential gifts over material gifts. CNBC, Travel + Leisure, and Parenting Magazine are just some of the sites that have published holiday buying guides and blogs devoted exclusively to experiential gift ideas within the last year.



The giving of experiential gifts is certain to continue trending into 2019.

So you can stop spending hours clicking through product pages on Amazon and trudging through malls looking for that perfect “thing” to gift.


Because the perfect gift isn’t a “thing” at all.


A new way to gift

Ready to improve the way you gift? Consider Generous Experience Cards before you pick up another traditional gift. The platform allows you to easily gift experiences and possible deliver a memory that lasts a lifetime.


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