What research says about the contents of Santa's sack

Santa sack of presents iStock 000017440426Medium(copy)When we had young children, we filled their Santa sacks with toys and other gifts - many of which soon became forgotten, broken or were consigned to the toy box or junk heap within a matter of weeks: the giver, to all intents forgotten. What went wrong?
The intent to please those young children was great but perhaps the execution was a little astray. When children are really young (ie: babies), providing too many toys or other goodies is simply overwhelming and counter-productive and they quickly forget who gave what. As they age, children become more choosey and the ‘right brands’ and what is ‘in’ become more important than the value or quantum of the gifts. Providing the ‘right gift’ seems to be more important that the actual act of giving. As children move into the teenage years, a gift of money seems to be more relevant than a physical gift from an older person as it becomes harder and harder to understand what they really want or need.
 
Once someone becomes an adult, then Christmas seems to change. A young adult might really want a first home, a new car or some other equally expensive item but it is simply not realistic nor affordable for most givers to provide that. As these adults age, they accumulate assets or ‘things’ and it becomes a nightmare trying to figure out what to get them for Christmas.

There is growing evidence indicating it is experiences, not things, which make us happy. Many experiences are low cost but very memorable. If you give a gift of a memorable experience, then the benefit for the recipient is huge and likewise for the giver. Not only do you get a ‘thanks that’s a lovely thought’ at the time of the gift, but you might get to share in the experience itself, receive texts, snap chats, Facebook messages and phone calls during the experience, then see the photos and transformed person at the end of it. The benefits keep coming back as the recipient shares stories about the experience long after it has been and gone. Toys and material gifts break or go out of fashion, but quality meaningful experiences last a lifetime.

Consider carefully those you love this Christmas and make it different from all the rest - give a gift of an ‘experience’ rather than a gift of a ‘thing’. The potential benefits for both parties will last well after Christmas and the New Year.