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The Benefit of Experience-Based Gifts

| 10/7/2015 2:11:00 PM

No matter how hard we might try, finding the perfect gift is scientifically unfeasible. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, we give gifts that we think will reflect well on us and endear us to the recipient—not what the recipient actually wants.

This year skip the search for the perfect item and instead bestow the gift of a great time. Compared with material goods, experiences bring more happiness, according to research published in Psychological Science. When people spend resources on experiences instead of stuff, they get an uptick in happiness and excitement in advance of the experience that outpaces the boost given by the anticipation of a material good. Experiences trump material goods when it comes to long-term happiness, too. Experiences offer a social element, so we can build up relationships with them, and once the experience is over, it’s something we can discuss with others. (A trip to Japan is much more interesting conversation fodder than describing the features of a new camera.) Read on for just a few ideas for fun, experiential gifts.

Woman with Camera


A well-chosen subscription service makes for a perfectly practical gift that delivers for months to come. Here are some of our favorites:

When it comes to food delivery, few subscriptions can beat the do-good feeling of Love with Food. Every month, your foodie friend will receive a box filled with organic and all-natural snacks based on seasonal items. What's more, for every box sold, a meal is donated to food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength-No Kid Hungry. $8 a month, Love with Food

Thrill your favorite bookworm with a subscription to a book-delivery service. The indie ebook store Emily Books will automatically upload a carefully selected ebook to their device every month. Or for commuters, try an Audible subscription, so your pal can download any audiobook that strikes her fancy. $14 a month, Emily Books; $15, Audible

Subscribe today and save 58%

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