Researchers at Cornell University found that happiness from buying gifts like TVs quickly falls, while satisfaction from buying an experience like a trip only continues to grow.
(NEW YORK) — Christmas is just one week away, and if you don’t have gifts purchased for everyone on your list, have no fear.
This could be the perfect time, and perfect excuse, to jump on the latest trend and give an experience as a gift.
Not only will you surprise your loved ones by giving an experience, you’ll make them happier too, research shows. Researchers at Cornell University found that happiness from buying gifts like TVs quickly falls, while satisfaction from buying an experience like a trip only continues to grow.
Katherine Kellogg, 28, said she found unexpected joy when she began gifting experiences to friends and family three years ago. She and her husband, who live in the San Francisco area, give each other experiences they can do together, like tickets to a basketball game or an opera, each Christmas.
The bonus of giving an experience gift to do together is that you’re also giving the gift of your time, noted Kellogg, who shares a list of 50 experience ideas on her blog, Going Zero Waste.
“Everyone is always busy and with this, you’re also intentionally making sure that time is carved out,” she said. “You already have it on the schedule.”
Here are experience ideas for everyone on your gift list:
Parents: A monthly subscription to a service like Blue Apron for cooking or baking; annual tickets to a local theater; newspaper or magazine subscription; airplane tickets to visit you or other family; annual pass for a local attraction or museum; movie passes; gift card to a favorite restaurant; hiring a photographer for family photos; couples’ dance lessons; tickets to a lecture series; homemade coupons for everything from a home cooked meal to help with a home project.
Partner: A trip together; homemade passes for tasks like cooking dinner or cleaning or completing projects at home; couples’ massage; classes together (think everything from cooking to art to improv to dancing to exercise); date nights booked in advance so they are planned and on the calendar; an outdoor event like a hike or kayaking; a hot-air balloon ride or skydiving trip if you’re adventurous; a trip back to or a recreation of your first date spot; tickets to a concert, play or sporting event.
Kids: Membership passes to a local museum or aquarium or kids’ center; tickets to live theater or a sporting event; a family trip; classes (like baking, photography, science, or even a class as a family); a visit to a local mini-golf course or trampoline park; coupons for ice cream dates; a one-on-one trip to the playground; a meal at their favorite restaurant; a family hike; lessons, from guitar to horseback riding to tennis; a full day of their choice of activities; subscription to a monthly activity or baking box; a day trip to a local destination of their choice.
Aunts, uncles and grandparents: If you live close by, give them the gift of your time and skills with a coupon to help them with a project or a pledge to visit weekly or monthly. If you live far away, research their local town and gift them tickets to the local theater or passes to a local destination or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. Other ideas: a visit from you; record them recounting their life experiences for an oral history project; send a letter thanking them for being part of your life and sharing your favorite memories; create a photo book or family tree that shows your roots.
Friends: Passes to yoga or workout classes you can do together; sign up for a baking or art or music class together; massage or spa gift certificates; gift card to a favorite restaurant; movie passes; coffee shop gift card and coupon for coffee dates; a wine tasting; a walking tour of your city together; makeup lesson or wardrobe consultation together; a day trip or a weekend getaway; fresh flowers delivered to their home; a coupon for a friends’ night each month or each week.