Why More Couples Are Gifting Experiences For The Holidays

Over the last few years, there’s been a dramatic shift away from giving traditional, material gifts to giving experiences instead. But what’s behind this shift? As a trend, the practice of gifting experiences is driven in large part by millennials who not only attend more live events, but also prefer receiving experiences over things. This also makes sense from a practical perspective; more millennials rent than prior generations did at the same age, meaning they’re more likely to have to pack up all their possessions regularly and that they have less space to store things – I should know, my wife and I have lived in three different states in the last five years! 

Whatever your age or living situation, though, it’s worth considering gifting an experience this year – and such a gift is almost guaranteed to please. Whether you prefer heading to a concert together or trying out a new adventure sport, experience gifts are designed to be shared.

A Gift That Lasts

One reason that people have historically been reticent about giving experiences as gifts is that they view experiences as having something of an expiration date – it was perceived as almost like giving a food item in the sense that it was consumed and then it was gone. But, as it turns out, we’ve been thinking about this all wrong.

From a cognitive perspective, though, experience gifts are actually more long lasting than material ones. That’s because our minds adapt to new material gifts more quickly than they do to new experiences. In a few days, that new sweater or book isn’t so exciting, but you’ll still be looking forward to that class or concert. Plus, when it’s done, you’ll have stories to tell and a memory to share as a couple.

The Comparison Factor

It’s not just our ability to adapt to or incorporate material gifts that makes experiences such great gifts. There’s also the issue of comparison. We’re all adults so while we may not intentionally compare our gifts to each other or to what we might have gotten and didn’t – we still do. It’s just a subconscious impulse. When we’re gifted an experience, though, it’s much harder to compare. That ski trip doesn’t come in another color! Maybe in a different location, but you’re not about to question a ski trip.

All About Togetherness

Perhaps the most important reason to give your partner an experience as a gift rather than fussing over material things is that experience gifts are much more closely linked with social connection and even with identity. Think of this as part of your self-expression as a couple. When you give your partner an experience as a gift, you’re almost certainly giving the gift of time together. Of course, you can also give experience gifts that they can enjoy with other people, but your couple time is important. Prioritize it by making it part of your gifts to each other this holiday season. You won’t regret it.