Do Millennials Love Experiences More Than Traditional Gifts?

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home


Do you ever savour the moment when you read something from a respected researcher and say to yourself, “Ah ha! I knew it”? I certainly do. That happened to me after reading Gary Chapman’s Love Languages and confirmed that I love gifts. Gifts are my primary language.

This should not be a surprise given my career choice and VISA statement. There are few things better than hearing someone say, “I love it” after they open a gift from yours truly.

What is a tad surprising is trying to convince non-believers that it is first, a legit thing, and second, that it’s not all bad. Certainly I understand that as a society, westerners can be materialistic. A lot may try to “keep up with the Jones” with their homes and cars. I think this is what the greed of the 1980s and all those gloriously tacky movies were about.

Fast forward to today and I think that materialist greed is fading a bit. If not fading, it has shifted. People – and certainly my peers - are interested in how they spend their time and money. Going and having life experiences tend to trump wanting to purchase many goods for the goods themselves. For example, rather than getting a pair of shoes because you want to wear them everyday, one may purchase scuba flippers for an upcoming adventure trip. Having firsthand new experiences is millennium catnip.

But aren’t experiences gifts too? They tend to cost money to get there. Often times you need certain equipment – like those scuba flippers - to participate. Or doing the actual activity costs a fee. Flights, accommodations, food, fuel, and activities all cost money. Be it a concert or a weekend hiking and camping, you have to pay for that experience. To me, it’s in the same indulgent lane as gifts.

Please don’t get me wrong, I do love indulging in life’s joys. Gifting – and gifting well – is a high priority to me. Gifting well, to me, means selecting something that reflects the recipient. What I would get for my dad (antique beer items for the cabin) is different than what I would get a girlfriend for a housewarming (gold banded champagne glasses) or my best friends (a road trip across Canada). When it comes to gifting myself many times that’s getting an item I have been lusting after. Other times it is a practical item I deem I need for an activity or trip. No matter the purpose, I’m urging us to call it what it is…

Shopping...

Buying a gift for you...

Treating yo self!

And doesn’t it feel good? That’s what gifts do. Whether they are for you or for someone else that’s what it is all about. You are saying something along the lines of, “I see you. You’re important. I wanted you to have this. I picked this out just for you. I hope you like it.” It’s a home run when the person does like it and they actually use it.

Buying something for yourself is just shortcutting. Gifting a-la-self also super dooper increases the chances that it will be a good gift. It should be. You picked it out, silly.

The next time you are making a list for the things you want to pick up take a minute and thing about how it’s a gift. Consider and appreciate that you are giving yourself a little slice of joy through an item. Enjoy that a bit.

It’s totally fine to care about yourself – and others – enough to spread some joy with a gift. Let’s just be more honest about it.