With the holidays just around the corner, we know what’s on your mind: presents! The ones you’ll get, the ones you’ll give, and how you can top last year. This year, we challenge you to flip the script. Don’t just buy a present — give an experience. Why? Because they’re personal, thoughtful, and you can’t really compare them. After all, how many helicopter rides does one person go on? Exactly. Read on for some fun and fresh reasons to surprise your favorite people this holiday season.
1. Experiences don’t go out of style
Clothes do (think popped collars and bandage dresses). So does tech. Instead of buying your loved ones the season’s coolest duds, opt for something that never goes out of style: an unforgettable experience. A trip to Disneyland Paris or Hamburg’s Miniature Wonderland with the kids never gets old — even though they will.
2. Scientists say so
Psychologists know a little bit about how our brains work, so we’ll trust them on this. Enter hedonic adaptation. It’s the idea that no matter how good a gift makes us feel initially, that feeling begins to fade as the object becomes part of our daily lives. The happiness you get from doing or receiving anything — no matter how amazing — decreases if it becomes routine or expected. Which is why giving an experience really stands out. This means that a whitewater rafting trip with friends or a romantic hike at sunrise will stick in our minds (and even improve over time) way longer than any present will.
3. Memories last forever, things don’t
Material gifts are fleeting. Toys break, watches stop, and seams tear. Memories don’t. They’re little snapshots in time with the people we care about most. That makes them more valuable than anything you can wrap up in a box. And you don’t even have to travel far to do something amazing. It’s as simple as stepping outside your front door and spending time with someone you love discovering your city.
At least, you probably don’t want to. Experiences, on the other hand, are meant to be shared. Instead of giving your best friend their favorite bottle of vintage red, book a trip to California’s wine country for a weekend of unforgettable wine tastings. We promise they’ll be more than enough vino to go around.
5. They’re the most fun
Giving a loved one an experience beats gifting socks any day of the week. What better way to treat a noted history buff than diving into the past at Angkor Wat? What sweeter way to say ti amo to your special someone than on a gondola ride through Venice? And if you don’t know which experience to choose, don’t worry — you can always give an open-ended experience with a gift card.
6. You don’t need more stuff
Three years ago, no one had heard of Marie Kondo. Today, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has taken the world by storm, and we haven’t looked back. People began decluttering their homes, one sweater at a time (“Thank you for your service, sweater, but your rayon blend no longer brings me happiness”). In the spirit of less clutter and more memories, spark joy by giving an experience — they’ll never end up forgotten in the corner of your closet!
How do you wrap an experience?
Now that we’ve told you all the reasons you should go all out and give experiences this holiday season, we bet you have dozens of ideas for all of your favorite people. But this probably has you thinking: how do I wrap an experience? We know there’s something special about unwrapping something on the day of, so feel free to get creative. You could print a picture of the activity and wrap it as you would a regular gift, or you could wrap a small trinket that describes the experience. The possibilities are endless! And if you simply can’t decide what experience to gift, don’t worry. You can always give your loved ones the freedom to choose an incredible experience for themselves (and maybe even invite you along).