As we move – seemingly more quickly than ever – into the holiday season, many conversations inevitably turn to gifts. Who wants what? What are this year’s “must-haves” for kids? From personal blogs to huge sites like HuffPo and high profile individuals like Oprah pour effort into making lists of gift ideas for every possible age group, gender, and more. A product that makes it onto a particularly well publicized list (like Oprah’s ‘favorite things’ list, linked above) can make a company that may otherwise have struggled through the holiday season.
First, it is important to understand that it isn’t all about presents: having more physical items doesn’t actually make us happier. We think it will, but we’re fooling ourselves. In fact, the Wall Street Journal published an article recently that ponders the age-old question “Can Money Buy Happiness?”. The article cites a recent study that explored people’s perceived expectations vs. the benefit they actually felt they got out of material and experiential purchases. Most people anticipated that a material purchase would yield more benefit than an experiential purchase prior to doling out the cash, but the experiential purchases yielded a perception of greater benefit longer term.
With so much focus on giving (and getting) gifts during the holidays, how can you reconcile the expectation of gifts along with the fun of giving them with a move towards an understanding it isn’t all just about getting presents? Well, you trick them. You give them a gift, but you make it an experience. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that if you give your kid a trip to the zoo instead of that one specific toy that they *HAAAAAVVEEE* to have that they’ll just forget about the toy (I’m still waiting on that My Little Pony house that I asked for in 1988, Mom), but they’re likely to remember the experience longer than they’ll appreciate a physical thing.
To help you along with your holiday gift/experience giving, we’ve compiled a list of great ‘experience gifts’ for kids and another for teachers (or other adults). What do you think of experience gifts? Will you give any this holiday season? What are the best gifts for teachers and kids? Share your thoughts with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, mentioning @DailyGenius on Twitter, or head over to the Daily Genius Facebook page and tell us what you think!
Best gifts for kids
- Day or season passes to a museum, zoo, aquarium, amusement venue, etc
- Art or music classes
- Sports: a lesson or season membership for a team
- Day trips to local-ish places of interest (historical sites, trains, fire stations, etc, depending on the child’s interests)
- Tickets to sporting events
- Trip to a waterpark (many places, even hotels, have indoor water parks that are great for younger kids and can be visited year-round)
Best gifts for teachers
- A donation to a charity in their name
- Gift card for massages or other spa treatments
- Restaurant gift cards
- Gift cards for coffee or tea shops nearby
- Gift cards to local movies or theaters
- Museum passes
- Gas gift card
- Tickets to a local event (like a ‘Taste of (City/neighborhood)”, Wine tasting passes or tickets to a beer fest (do some recon to find out what their vice of choice is, if they have one!)
When you give gift cards, please remember to do so thoughtfully – meaning if you aren’t sure if the recipient of the gift likes something or would do something, don’t give a voucher they might not use.