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Let me start with saying that material gifts are not all bad! However, they often lead to stress for both the giver and the receiver.

Have you ever gifted an experience? Even last minute, an experience gift can be easy to arrange, thoughtful, and rewarding to both giver and receiver. They can be priceless memories or skills that last a lifetime. Plus less clutter and stuff!

We seem to be drowning in material items. I feel like I have way too much stuff in my home! It can be overwhelming. It’s no surprise that we have become obsessed with “tidying up.” Gifting experiences can help cut back on the flood of objects that can come pouring in on gift-giving occasions!

Why Give Experiences & Not Stuff?

From Wellness Mama:

“Many studies have shown that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling that things. (Additional bonus: you don’t have to find a place to store experiences except in your heart, memory, and maybe in a photo book!)

A researcher named Thomas Gilovich at Cornell University has spent more than a decade trying to understand why experiences have the ability to contribute to happiness so much more than material purchases. Along with another researcher, Matthew Killingsworth, he published this research in the Journal of Psychological Science showing that experiences provide more lasting happiness than material possessions.

They basically concluded that people tend to get less happier with material purchases over time, and more happy with experiences. They speculate that this is because we adapt to physical things, so even the nicest car or newest phone becomes commonplace after enough time, while memories tend to get fonder over time.

Isn’t that fascinating?”

Child with Parents

The Importance of Experiences for Kids

Family time is so important for children and their psychological development. Shared family time and experiences have been linked to:

  • bonding within the family
  • fewer behavioral problems in children
  • a stronger sense of identity
  • a sense of security for children
  • higher rates of academic success
  • lower rates of violence

The time spent together can be as simple as sharing meals or reading books. But, there are definitely more exciting options. *Drumroll please*

You may also like: Natural Ways to Avoid Back-to-School Illness

Here’s my guide for gift experiences for kids:

  • Zoo membership
  • Aquarium Passes
  • Dance Lessons
  • Singing Lessons
  • Music Lessons
  • Art Lessons
  • Theme Park Passes
  • Gymnastics Lessons
  • Horseback Riding
  • National Park Passes
Kid at Zoo
  • Movie Tickets
  • Children’s Theater Passes
  • Trip to the Bookstore
  • Swim Lessons
  • Flower Seeds
  • Payment for a Summer Camp
  • Sports Game Tickets
  • Mini Golf
  • Disney on Ice
  • Materials to Buy a Terrarium
  • Game Night Bundle
  • AirBnB Gift Card
  • Concert Tickets
  • Sesame Street Live Tickets
  • Puzzles
  • Give to Charity
  • Bowling Tickets
  • Geo Caching
  • Lunch Dates
  • Local Children’s Museum Membership
  • Plane Tickets
  • Family Movie Night Kit
  • Ant Farm
  • Botanical Gardens Tickets
  • Camping Tent and/or Camping Trip
Kids Camping

Giving Experiences: Final Thoughts

Think about adding some experiences even if you’ve already purchased gifts for this year. Progress over perfection, so if this seems overwhelming, maybe try slowly transitioning to more experience-based gifts over time. The time spent together and memories made are worth so much more than tangible gifts, and statistically, giving experiences may help reduce your stress levels and even contribute to family bonding.

XO, Sam

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