How Experiential Gifts are the Best to Give


Experiential gifts greatly influence your overall Happiness – one of the most researched, read about, and sought after ideals of our society.

It’s what makes us try new things, meet new people, and even give the gifts we do. It’s also why we dream about the cars we’ll have one day and the racetracks we’ll drive, because just the thought of it makes us happy. Finding happiness within yourself can be hard at times, but trying to bring that same level of happiness to another is even more difficult – especially during the holidays.

We’ve all been given a gift that we knew we would never use. Sometimes we return it and get something else instead and sometimes we just let it sit and collect dust in our closets. Even when you did return it could you recall what it was for? I bet you can’t.

On the other hand, as the gift-giver we’re so concerned with giving something the person will enjoy that it outweighs the physical cost of the item. Giving an unwanted gift becomes a lost moment to bring happiness and enjoyment to the people we care about.

So it begs the question, is there a better approach to gift giving that emotionally satisfies both the recipient and giver? Research has shown that no matter what we have a positive emotional response when receiving a gift of any kind. However, this response can be altered depending on our perceived thoughtfulness of the gift giver or simply by how much we like the gift.

Enter, Experiential Gifts

As a gift giver our goal shouldn’t be to simply satisfy the person with the gift, but give a gift that creates a lasting memory for the two of you to share. We want to feel the joy of giving the right gift just as much as we want the person to like it. A study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School discovered that recipients of experiential gifts feel more connected to their gift giver than do those who received material gifts. (1)

This discovery taps into Daniel Kahneman’s concept of our two selves (2) – the self that lives in the present, and the self that creates our memories and maintains the story of our life. It’s mind blowing to sit back and realize that our level of happiness is also split into two – our happiness with our present life, and the happiness we get from our memories. Kahneman points out that our psychological present only lasts but a few seconds, meaning that when we’re giving or receiving a material gift it is confined to a short period as the center of our attention. However, because our remembering self focuses on the bigger events in our lives and stores them to memory, experiential gifts are able to tap into this psychological breakthrough and create an real memory of happiness that lasts a lifetime. It becomes a permanent chapter in the story of our life.

Because positive experiences are sources of happiness, don’t just give someone a material gift that creates momentary happiness in their life, but an experiential gift that creates an lasting memory. So this Father’s Day, upcoming birthdays or holidays give your loved ones the Xperience of a lifetime! You’re sure to make them and yourself a happy memory to share together forever.

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XTRA Viewing:

Watch Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, discuss his insights into our experiences vs. memories.


(1) Chan, Cindy and Cassie Mogilner, “Experiential Gifts Are More Socially Connecting than Material Gifts,” Currently under revision for Journal of Consumer Research

(2) Daniel Kahneman – TED Talk