This weekend is my daughter’s birthday. Birthdays are big deal in our family and my wife and I try to look for that perfect gift for our children. When I suggested to my daughter that we get her an experiential purchase rather than any material gift, she was intrigued. Material purchases only provide temporary satisfaction with increased stress. Why stress? There are a number of reasons. First, we scour the marketplace to find that perfect gift and the best deal. Secondly, with so many options available, the process is exhausting. Additionally, after we make material purchases, if we subsequently find out that we missed better options, our happiness often will quickly give way to buyer’s remorse.
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, said “It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly”.
In contrast to material purchases, experiential purchases (purchases for experiences) are less stressful, are remembered fondly, and satisfy important needs that bring lasting happiness. My family always gives me experiential gifts for Father’s Day and my birthday. I prefer tickets to live comedy shows or a lovely dinner with the family. It is far better than getting a tie or shirt that I will eventually forget about.
When we purchase experiences, we are less likely to critically critique them before, during, and after the purchase. We recognize their uniqueness and value the ways that they enrich our lives. It’s is why people will pay hundreds of dollars to go to concerts when they can instead buy the cd for less than $15. We are likewise less prone to compare experiential purchases to other purchases, as we allow them to stand on their own. Moreover, experiential purchases are often remembered more fondly afterwards than during the actual experience. Experiential purchases, such as going out to dinner or the movies and even going on that special vacation, are far better than any material gift. The best gift I ever received was season’s tickets for the Toronto Raptors. I cannot even remember one material gift. Experiential purchases provide us with the greatest sense of well-being. Material purchases simply pale by comparison!
Um…Now, what experiential gift can I give my daughter?