Ration the Gift Experience

December 6, 2021

By Meghan Greenwood

Listen to the Pgh Dreamer’s Pod: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Ration-the-Gift-Experience-e1bb6hp

With the chaos of the holiday season, gifts can not only be overwhelming to buy, but also, overwhelming to receive.

Think about how a child acts when they are being handed a gift from grandma on top of a gift from auntie on top of gifts from Santa. They may be excited, but the excitement per gift lasts about 10 seconds. It becomes way too much too quick and each gift dilutes the next.

The same tendency applies to adults. If we are given a bolus of anything, we take it for granted. Think about the last time you had an enormous pizza. Sure, the first few slices tasted good, but after a few days of leftovers, the delight of the pizza wears off. Similarly, the presents under the tree can initially tickle us pink. And although we are grateful, that pile of gifts loses it spark and dulls before the holidays are over.

Instead of relying on instant-satisfaction type gifts – the new bike, a flat screen TV, a pair of oversized slippers – try rationing the gift. According to Dr. Laurie Santos, the host of the Happiness Lab and the acclaimed ‘happiness’ professor at Yale University, we should try giving and giving again. The idea behind this approach is giving someone a gift that will bring them joy again in the future. And no, this doesn’t negate the warmth of that new sweater, that presumably will bring you happiness for months to come – but this is a delayed type of satisfaction built on experiences.

For example, tickets to a Broadway show that will be on stage in March or their favorite band who just happens to be coming to a venue in a nearby city this summer. And it doesn’t even have to be that immaculate. How about a pair of movie tickets? Or a restaurant gift certificate?

No matter the cost, the experience will take on new meaning in the coming year and likely put a smile on the recipient’s face long after the holiday cheer has fizzled.

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