Blog / The art of experience gift giving: Experience gifts draw relationships closer
The art of experience gift giving: Experience gifts draw relationships closer
We have all been there - birthdays, graduations, and holidays opening each present as everyone looks at you to see what you think. You start to unwrap the present and look at the gift giver anxiously wondering what’s inside the box. Finally as you open the box the worst thing happens, the gift is the complete opposite of what you wanted. Socks, coffee mugs, or worse an emotionless gift card or cash. But what if the gift you received reflected your interests giving you an experience that was meaningful without feeling indebted to the gift giver, like we typically do with overly expensive material gifts.
Gift giving is part of almost every culture with many of our relationships having strong gifts giving aspects to them. Unfortunately, gift giving has become a mere afterthought for most of us. We buy material gifts that most often are trivial and disconnected to our relationships, missing the chance to connect emotionally with the gift recipient. Kids will often receive toy gifts that end up being donated or thrown away after a short time, meanwhile an experiential gift is something that will help them create lifelong memories. Gifts that create these memories are appreciated more and create a unique bond between the gift giver and recipient. As Dr. Lisa A Williams states in her Psychology of Gift Giving video, “Experiential gift giving draws a gift giver and gift recipient together”. Experiential gifts mean more to both the giver and recipient and create more value, emotion, and fun.
Ever get a gift that dropped your jaw? When I was 22 my then girlfriend, now wife, gifted me a brand new Xbox360 with some of my favorite games. We were dating for just over a year and she went all out. I was overjoyed, I went through a tough year and this gift meant so much to me. I couldn’t wait to set it up and felt like a kid at the candy store. Her birthday wouldn't be for another 5 months but I began to think, what do I get her? I needed to go as big or bigger. The anxiety and stress was a lot for a clueless 22 year old. What if she doesn’t find what I get her equal value to what she got me? How do I go that big? Do I make enough money for that? Is she going to expect something I can’t give her? All of that to say as grateful as I was for this amazing gift, I also felt incredibly indebted. It wasn’t until years later that I got her a gift that got the same reaction as mine. I felt such a pressure on each birthday until then, why couldn’t I get it right?
Dr. Williams states in her Psychology of Gift Giving video, “recipients prefer to receive gifts that reflect the giver instead”. So as you start thinking about the gifts that you will give, try adding your personality into them. Gift recipients will think of the gift giver when a thoughtful gift is given and that bond between the two of you will grow. Experiential gifts are often a great way to add our own personalities to the gift while giving something incredibly thoughtful and valuable. Whether it's a visit to a museum or zoo, going to a favorite theme park, or taking classes to master a new skill, experiential gifts give recipients a chance to create memories they’ll never forget.
Gift giving can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be that way - gift giving can actually be a thoughtful and meaningful experience. Experiential gifts draw us closer to each other, not feel indebted to each other gift after gift, and show off our personalities. Gifts are meant to be an emotional and important part of our culture but we have used material gifts to show our love when experiences are a better way to give someone a gift they will truly appreciate.