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People associate experiential gifts with an expensive or exotic vacation, but experiential gift-giving refers to any gift that offers a way to explore, learn or just spend time together — and the experiences closest to home, which have the least impact on the environment, are often also the most meaningful.
While some of these gift ideas may not be possible during the pandemic, others can be enjoyed while respecting social distancing and local safety measures.
Research into consumption and happiness brings together findings in public health, psychology, the environment and social change to answer questions such as why people over-consume after their basic needs are met, what happens when our desire for love and belonging isn’t satisfied, and how our social drives affect our daily lives. Experts have found that while more “stuff” doesn’t buy happiness, experiences might.
So, what does bring us happiness?
All of these are experiences, not things.
Experiences make excellent gifts because they can be unique, their anticipation increases enjoyment, they provide long-lasting memories, they’re fleeting so we value them more, and their worth increases with time.
So rethink your presents this holiday season — help bring joy to your best friend, partner, mom, or favorite uncle by giving them an experience.
Not only do experiential gifts offer more than just “stuff” to the recipient, they’re also better for the planet. Think about this: When you purchase an item as a gift, the life cycle of that item begins by extracting raw materials from the earth, which typically destroys wildlife habitat. The raw materials are then transported to a factory where the item is made. Then the product — most likely manufactured overseas — is packaged and transported to the United States, offloaded from a large cargo ship, transported again by truck or rail to a warehouse and then, finally, shipped to a shelf at your local store.
All along the way, your item is using fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, producing waste and pollution, and disrupting wildlife. Then, once your gift is no longer useful to the recipient, it will most likely get incinerated, creating toxic air pollution; be sent to a landfill where it will slowly decompose, producing methane gas; or create a hazard to wildlife that may become entangled in or choke on pieces of plastic or fabric.
That’s a lot of upstream damage caused by a product that your loved one most likely doesn’t even need (and may not even want). So instead of buying your cousin that board game she’ll probably never play, take her out for game night at a local coffee shop instead. You’ll get to spend quality time together, support a local business and skip the planet-harming behind-the-scenes action that goes into producing so many of the products we buy.
Experiential gifts allow both the giver and the receiver the opportunity to enjoy the best aspects of gift giving without the high environmental cost. These gift ideas will help you give a personal, fun experiential gift to your friends and family that won’t break the bank.
The suggestions below are either skills or hobbies that you have and can share, or someone else’s that are offered via a lesson or class.
Visit our experiential gift guide for more ideas.
Entry Passes/ Memberships
Event Tickets/ Gift Cards
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