Why Experiences Make Better Gifts than Things

Nov 15, 2018

 We know it in our hearts and researchers have found proof: experiences and good deeds make us happier than things. A long-standing study out of Cornell University found that the satisfaction people get from new possessions is fleeting, while memories of things we’ve enjoyed doing grow stronger over time. Social connections, meanwhile – the kind we make when travelling or going out with loved ones – have also been shown to be the best path to happiness.

Why not put that research into action this Christmas? Here’s some ideas for giving your loved ones presents that generate good feelings and memories – for you both!

Give the gift of pampering

We all have someone in our lives who loves doing nice things for others, but never takes time for themselves. They wouldn’t dream of treating themselves to a massage or facial – which is why the gift of a luxury spa visit will mean so much. And that friend or sibling who does indulge in spa visits on the regular? They’ll love this gift too, especially if you get a spa gift for yourself as well and promise to come along for the fun.

Give a getaway

Travel is the ultimate memory-maker, but traditionally it’s hard to give as a present; you may not know when the recipient can travel, for example. We’ve worked with our hotel partners to make it easy to treat someone to a night (or more) away. You give the gift voucher (which can be mailed by Travelzoo in a festive wrapping, printed to include in a holiday card, or sent via email), and the delighted recipient calls the hotel to book a time that works for them. The icing on the fruitcake: some of our packages come with meals and other extras, too.

If you’re in a position to give (or take) a once-in-a-lifetime trip, travel doesn’t get much more meaningful than this immersive trip to Ecuador. ME to WE Trips didn’t start as a travel company -- they started as a movement to change the world. For over 20 years, they’ve worked hand in hand with WE Charity partner communities in Ecuador, Kenya and India, helping to empower them. Their trips give participants a chance to do the same.

Give a night (or day) out

When people sit down and dine together, they are sharing more than food; they’re making time for conversation and strengthening bonds. A gift certificate for dinner for two can be a romantic present for that special someone in your life, or a thoughtful gift for busy parents who could use a date night. (Offer to babysit if you want best-gifter-ever status.) 

Another popular option -- especially during the holidays -- is a trip to see a live show. Travelzoo has deals on plenty of family-friendly and holiday-themed tickets. If you have some time off with your family over the break, these are definitely gifts you might want to give to yourself!

Active types, meanwhile,  will be thrilled to receive ski passes, cooking classes, winery tours and other fun presents; you’ll find a curated list of activities in our gift guide.

Give a gift that gives back

The goal of giving an experience is to improve the recipient’s life. But what about gifts that can also improve the lives of those in need around the globe? That’s the idea behind ME to WE’s socially conscious gifts that give back. Each ME to WE gift changes a life by supporting WE Charity projects. You’re not just unwrapping a gift, you’re unwrapping education, water, health, food or opportunity for a woman, a family or a community. Travelzoo picked out a few favourites especially for frequent flyers and travel lovers.

Hand-crafted, fair-source ME to WE chocolate (that also happens to be award-winningly delicious) makes an ideal stocking stuffer and supports local Ecuadorian farmers.  And any woman on your list will feel good inside and out wearing the pretty Mama Toti bracelet set with ethically sourced semi-precious stones. This bracelet gives back to income-generating projects like financial literacy and entrepreneurship training in WE Charity partner communities. All ME to WE gifts come with a Track Your Impact code that, when entered online, links to the specific project that your present supports. This means that you and the gift recipient can share feelings of goodwill that will last much longer than the holidays. 

ME to WE and Travelzoo have an exclusive gift for you, too: thanks to our partnership, Travelzoo members can get 20% off products on the ME to WE Holiday Gift Guide. Just use code WE-TRAVELZOO18.

So, when you’re doing your shopping this season, spare yourself the task of canvassing stores for presents that might be forgotten in less time than it took you to find a parking spot at the mall. Give the gift of an experience instead – and help create memories that last a lifetime.

Find more stories and travel tips on our blog.

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