tips and tricks

The secret to gift-giving for kids that'll help you this Christmas

By Sangeeta Kocharekar December 19, 2016

Do your kids really need more ‘stuff’ this Christmas?

Every mum is inundated with 'must-haves' for their children. They're told they need this or they won’t sleep and they need this or they won’t eat and they must have all these things to keep them safe. Unfortunately, as children get older, the pressure for ‘stuff’ doesn’t wane and the mum-guilt to have the best for their kids only gets stronger. The coolest toys, the latest runners, iPads, iPhones... the list goes on.

But does having these things actually make a difference to our kids? Are they happier? Or more successful as adults? Even in the short-term, does having more toys or receiving more presents make Christmas more enjoyable for a young child?

Anecdotally, that’s easy to answer. Of course kids love receiving presents, but in reality, it's the feelings and memories of Christmas that they really remember. A study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, over 20 years, concluded that experiences provide longer-lasting happiness than things. There seem to be a number of different reasons why.

1. Experiences can shape our personality


They have the power to influence who we are as people. Receiving an iPad isn’t going to change your kid’s personality. But introducing your child to dance or swimming lessons, can build confidence and could become a lifelong passion. Today’s Olympians had to start somewhere!

2. Experiences can't be compared


They don’t lend themselves to comparison in the same way as ‘things’. If you buy your child the current must-have toy, there will always be another one lurking around the corner. Before very long, there will be a newer, shinier version that a friend has and we’re eternally trying to keep up with the Joneses.

On the other hand, if you have a fun family outing on a jet boat ride, it’s an experience that can be recalled and shared with others. If a friend has been on the jet boats as well, it’s an experience they can bond over and becomes another opportunity to reminisce about the wonderful memories.

3. The anticipation is almost as good as the experience


According to Gilovich, anticipation is different depending on whether it pertains to a thing or an experience. While anticipation of an experience adds to the enjoyment, anticipation for receiving a gift just leads to impatience.

4. Experiences are for a limited amount of time


The very fact that experiences are fleeting adds to their ‘value’. If a child (or an adult for that matter!) receives something that isn’t as exciting as it was expected to be or wasn’t quite what they had in mind, it just sits there reminding them of their disappointment. The fact they only last for a short time makes us value them even more and cherish those memories.

If you’re looking for an alternative to giving more ‘stuff’ this Christmas, why not consider an experience instead? Help your kids create wonderful memories by giving swimming lessons, ballet, jet boating, make-up courses or a trip to the aquarium using an online marketplace such as

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