As much as I love being on both the giving and receiving end of gift giving, I have to admit that it is usually a very stressful situation for me. As a gift giver, I end up running around a like chicken with her head cut off, trying to find the perfect present for whoever I’m shopping for. Let’s be real – I’m on a budget and this isn’t always possible. As the gift receiver, and as appreciative as I am about the giver taking the time to get something they thought I would love, I feel so much anxiety about getting more items to put in my home. My house is small and really, truly cannot fit much more. As a parent, my personal space is flooded with plastic toy cars, stuffed blue dinosaurs, and little toddler shoes. As much as I appreciate everyone who has ever given me anything, at this point in life, I would much prefer experiences over physical gifts this year for the holidays.
Does “Stuff” Buy Happiness?
If you are anything like me, the thought of having more more more makes you squirm. In fact, the inevitable gift-exchange of the holiday season always puts a tiny little ball of anxiety behind my ribs. Personally, I prefer a minimalistic view of, well, life in general. By no means am I the picture perfect minimalist, but it is a recent mindset shift that has personally benefited me in many ways.
Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of the lifestyle duo The Minimalists, lists some of the benefits of minimalism as decreased stress, improved relationships, and financial freedom. Essentially, excess “stuff” only creates more static within your life. As a mom, more “stuff” equates to toys all over the floor, dust collecting all over those toys, and more surfaces to clean.
Just like money can’t buy you love, “stuff” can’t buy you happiness. Of course, we all need our bare essentials – don’t get rid of what you honestly can’t live without – but everything extra is just stress and static.
The Benefits of Experiences
It goes without saying that a crucial aspect of development for a child is spending time with loved ones. Interestingly enough, a child’s attachment with their caregivers can directly effect them later in life. Gifting experiences, or moments of time, instead of material items, can be more beneficial for them in the long run. Benefits include increased self confidence, lower rates of violence, and a stronger bond with family. Spending time with loved ones fosters a sturdier sense of security, compared to kids who do not have an extensive family unit.
How to Create Memories Instead of Giving Gifts
Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to gift experiences and create memories. It is more beneficial to all parties involved to do something together, instead of only engaging in a quick gift exchange.
So what are some experiences you can gift, as opposed to material items? Simple. Think about what the recipient likes to do and go from there.
Animal lover? Buy admission to the zoo and plan a day walking around exploring the different creatures and critters.
Outdoorsy type? Put together a nice picnic and scout out a local trail to hike.
Foodie? Cook their favorite foods or take them out for dinner at their restaurant of choice.
Experience gifts do not have to be elaborate, nor do they have to break the bank. The point with gifting experiences instead of material goods is the time spent together. Time is the most valuable gift you have to give, and the most previous gift you can receive. Creating memories and strengthening bonds are two priceless presents that can never be replicated. Additionally, you do not have to be a minimalist to gift experiences. This year for the holidays, avoid the madhouse of consumerism and give the absolute best thing you can: experiences and memories made with you.
How will you be giving experiences instead of gifts this year?