For the first time, we’re giving our family and friends experience-based gifts. We won’t be buying physical gifts this year. To preface this, we will buy a small gift for our daughter to unwrap for Christmas, but the big gift will be an outing planned for a later date. There are a few reasons why we’re skipping presents this year; the main reason is that we’re trying to move away from materialism. As Americans, we’re bombarded with ads everywhere we go. Americans spend months stressing over the holidays. People go into debt to keep up the tradition. Now, I would never judge people for wanting to buy gifts and spoil their loved ones; but this year, I was overwhelmed with the push to buy more. I wanted to try something different.
There’s a message behind materialism, and that message is that you need to buy a lot of things in order to be happy; this is not true. Multiple studies support that the more people value possessions, the more likely they are to experience negative emotions like sadness. Author and psychologist Tim Kasser shares these findings. “The more that people prioritize materialistic values, the less happy they are, the less satisfied they are with their lives, the less vital and energetic they feel, the less likely they are to experience pleasant emotions like happiness and contentment and joy, the more depressed they are, the more anxious they are, the more they experience unpleasant emotions like fear and anger and sadness…” says Kasser.
I want my children to experience the magic of Christmas, but I believe it’s possible for them to experience it without collecting more and more things. One of my favorite family traditions was ice skating with dad’s side of the family. Every year, my aunt and uncle treated my cousins and me to ice skating. There were around 20 of us who would go ice skating. The cousins all came, and even the babies came along for the fun. Adults joined the fun, too; it was a blast! This is just one example of a Christmas gift I received that wasn’t a thing per se. Giving the gift of experiences means giving the gift of memories. It means carving out time in your busy schedule to spend time with the people who matter most.
Next year, we may try a different approach. If this year is a success, we may continue doing things this way. So far, it’s been freeing to scroll social media and ignore all of the ads and promotional items. I won’t be buying things this year!
There are many ideas online that you can find in case you’re interested in doing the same. Pinterest is a good source of ideas too. Below are some ideas:
-reservations to a restaurant
-tickets to a show
-tickets to a sporting event
-getting nails done
-overnight in an Airbnb
-wine and canvas
-a trip to the shooting range
-giving to a cause