Gift Giving – Possessions vs. Experiences

In my first post I mentioned how living in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was vastly different from living in the USA. Those differences were also seen in how we celebrated the holidays. Everything was much simpler in PNG! Most gifts were made by hand, useful for daily living, and didn’t cost much money. Our decorations were dependent on individual creativity and on the items that others, who came before us, left behind. I absolutely loved the Barbie and Ken nativity scene made by a friend’s daughter!

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Jump forward to 2018 when I spent 2 days decorating my home! Add the time we spend baking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping…and the anxiety can build! The average adult spends 66 hours preparing for Christmas. That is over 8 full time work days. And then there is the gift giving differences. Americans expect to spend on average $885 this year on holiday gifts. Sources: Scoro, Gallup

Do we really need all those gifts? Possessions do not necessarily buy happiness and they can contribute to the physical and mental clutter invading our lives. This is true for not only for adults but for children as well. Having too many toys can be overwhelming and distracting for younger children. “They pick up one toy, drop it, and move on. They can’t focus on using any of their things to the fullest,” says Margaret Sheridan, Ph.D., at Connecticut College, in New London. Furthermore, we all know that they head to play with the boxes sooner rather than later! Children age 6 and older who have an excessive number of toys “tend to think that everything is replaceable and nothing is valuable. They don’t learn to appreciate their possessions or feel a responsibility to care for them, “adds Shelley Lindauer, Ph.D., at the Adele & Dale Young Child Development Laboratory at Utah State University. Source: Parenting

So, you might want to consider the four-gift rule: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. And, gifts don’t have to be material possessions. Many people are opting for experiential gifts and the benefits are exponential. Experiences connect us to people as we make memories that shape our lives. I have given several experiences to other people, but one that stands out in my mind is taking my great-niece to the Young Chef Academy. It was so awesome to watch her totally enjoy this interactive experience in the culinary world!

I would love to hear what are some of the experiences you would recommend or have shared with important people in your life. Please comment below!

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