3 Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Khalil Gibran

It’s hard to have a conversation this time of year without someone woefully agonizing that they have to go shopping for presents.


Besides Mariah Carey ruining yet another holiday season, isn’t it a shame that gift giving has been reduced not only to “stuff” but is also an apparently painful burden for the giver?

First world problems indeed my friend.

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Here are three alternatives for you this holiday season when you prefer not to have “stuff” at the top of your list:

  1. Experiences – the list could go on forever but how about… bowling passes, a comedy show, movie tickets, a stay at a bed and breakfast, an expense paid trip to an arcade, a campground pass, a theater show, a massage, a facial, a pedicure or an IOU for not only a hearty high five but a full frontal hug! There are innumerable ways to offer your recipient an experience over a thing, you need only use your imagination!
  2. Consumables – this one is my personal favorite. Exotic olive oils…or body oils!!! Premium coffee or chocolates, bath salts, fudge!!, edibles of any kind…even that kind… dog treats, gifts from your garden… are you picking up what I’m putting down?
  3. Memberships – this one is easy… Amazon prime (for the movies and music, NOT the stuff, right??), memberships to the zoo, the museum, a science center, a gym or a yoga studio, Netflix, Hulu, Audible… and on and on and on.

Not only does this all sound great, help save the planet and make it easier on your recipient once they decide to give it all away someday… it is scientifically proven that people are happier when given experiences over things.

SCIENCE!!! as my friend Amethyst would say at the top of her lungs…don’t fret…she won’t read this, so there is no worry of embarrassment.

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Essentially, when you can’t live in a moment, they say, it’s best to live in anticipation of an experience. Experiential purchases like trips, concerts, movies, etc tend to trump material purchases because the utility of buying anything really starts accruing before you buy it.

Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good (and more “pleasantness” too—an eerie metric). By contrast, waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation. You can think about waiting for a delicious meal at a nice restaurant or looking forward to a vacation. Think of how different that feels from waiting for, say, your pre-ordered iPhone to arrive. Or when the two-day shipping on Amazon Prime doesn’t seem fast enough.

Now go, young shopper, out into the wild abyss of no-thing-ness. I commend you.

See you on the journey.

PS: Ever wonder where all that “stuff” you give as gifts ends up? If not in a landfill, at a place like this. These are actual photos from last weekend when Leslie and I visited Clines Country Antiques near Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina. Enjoy….cringe…scream in horror….whatever strikes your fancy.

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2 thoughts on “3 Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

  1. 5 years ago, my husband and I informed our families that we were not going to exchange Christmas gifts. We love buying special things for the kids, but the stress of buying for adults was going to stop. We suggested everyone donate to a favorite charity. The first year we were thought of as “Scrooge” and as we kept our promise, we still received gifts from everyone. Second year, we still received gifts, but smaller novelty, meaningless things. Third year, no gifts! They finally realized we were not playing the game anymore. Have a blessed holiday!

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