Whether you're looking forward to creating a master shopping list for the holiday season or have a loved one with an important birthday coming up, choosing the perfect gift is a big deal. You want to show that you know this person very well, and you want to make them happy. You also want your gift to be meaningful and memorable.
This is a tall order for any gift, but it can be especially challenging when you're shopping for someone who already has everything.
You know the type. Maybe this person is an avid shopper and has already sampled every hot new item out there. Or maybe it's someone you've been giving gifts to your whole life — or theirs! — and you're running out of ideas.
Or maybe it's someone older who is actively downsizing, making even the most clever item feel a little off, as it could take up too much valuable space. And of course, the older someone is, the more likely it is that they've had a lifetime to experience every gift under the sun already.
So what can you possibly offer that will be fun, fresh and — most importantly — appreciated?
Give the Gift of Experiences
Much has been written about how the Millennial generation has changed the economy by prioritizing experiences over possessions (and spending their money accordingly).
It turns out they were on to something!
Happiness researchers have found that people get greater satisfaction out of purchases that include doing something rather than just owning something. Experiences like eat-in restaurants or outdoor activities rank more highly that material possessions — including luxury items — when it comes to creating happiness.
There are a few reasons for this mood boost. First, experiences lead to greater anticipation in the days before you actually go rock climbing or sit down at a restaurant table, and all the thinking you do ahead of time adds to the pleasure of the gift. Then, the experience itself is novel and keeps you living "in the moment" while it's happening — an important aspect of mindfulness that is also linked to greater happiness.
Finally, experiences are fleeting, which leads to pleasant memories and nostalgia that you build around the event. It's hard to recall a fond memory about a piece of jewelry or electronic gadget, but it's easy to relive a vacation or amazing meal (especially if they make for a good story to tell your friends).
Experiences, then, are the gifts that keep on giving. They're also perfect for people for already have too many things because they don't take up any room at all — except in one's memory.
4 Great Experiences to Give
For the gift of an experience to be meaningful, it should offer the novelty of trying something new without being too far outside of someone's comfort zone. You know the recipient best, so don't terrify someone with a hang gliding excursion if they're afraid of heights.
No matter who you're shopping for, the best experiences fall into four main categories:
1. Learning a New Skill: Whether the recipient has always wanted to learn a particular skill and never had time or is getting the chance to deeply explore something in their wheelhouse of interests, learning gifts are highly engaging. Options include music and art lessons, museum passes, online courses in specific subjects, and a lecture series.
2. Trying Something New: For a less cerebral approach to your gift, go for something that will activate the senses or get the body moving. Options include adventure sports, travel, wine tasting, and outdoor activities.
3. Self-Discovery: When someone already has everything, it may be time to look inward. For older recipients, writing an autobiography or creating a book of photographs spanning the decades is a wonderful activity. For younger giftees, it may be illuminating to work with a career or life coach to gain clarity.
4. Self-Indulgence: Most people don't take the time to indulge themselves, so an experience built around relaxation or a luxurious pampering makes a wonderful gift. A massage or spa day is the classic choice, but other wellness options like a trip to natural hot springs or a personalized session with a nutritionist can also be great.
If you have a loved one who would enjoy the gift of self-discovery, we're here to help! StoryTerrace pairs people with professional biographers to interview them about their life story. Sure, you get a professionally bound book at the end, but the experience of telling your life story and putting your formative years into context is a priceless — and possibly transformative — experience.
Ready to give the gift of StoryTerrace? Get in touch to work with one of StoryTerrace’s professional writers to interview your loved one for their personal biography - or to gift them one of our Welcome Boxes in the run up to Christmas!