Stop Buying Stuff; Start Having Experiences

We’re all living in a society that is geared towards consumerism – it’s in the nation’s interest to go out there and buy more stuff. But is it in our interests? And do all the gadgets, toys, and gifts we buy our kids and loved ones actually make them happier?

Sure, maybe they do – in the short term. But as a dad, I’ve lost count of the times a present to the kids has resulted in them being more interested in scrunching, ripping, and playing with the wrapping paper than what was on the inside. And thinking back to when I was young, I remember few gifts – it’s the vacations, days out, and experiences that are easy to recall.

Watch the TV and read magazines, and the various holiday seasons we all enjoy are all about physical products: Christmas and birthday presents, Easter Eggs, Valentine’s gifts and so on. But be honest – can you remember what your partner gave you five years ago? And more to the point, can your kids remember what Santa left for them only last year?

With this in mind, I thought I would take a look at why we should all be having experiences and making memories rather than just buying each other gifts. Take a read – and feel free to let me know your thoughts!

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Gifts have a short life span

According to, new things – such as the gifts you give and get – have an incredibly short lifespan when it comes to making you happy. They are exciting at first, but we quickly adapt to them, and they become a standard part of our lives. Unless a particular object has an emotional resonance, it’s unlikely the impact of a gift – whether it’s a toy car or a new Ferrari – will last.

Experiences are unique

It’s almost impossible to experience the same thing exactly the same as you have before. Go to a football game, and there will be different outcomes. Revisit one of your favorite vacation destinations, and you will do new things, the weather might be different, and you’ll meet new people. Every experience is unique and becomes a much bigger part of our identities than material goods.

Experiences are fun!

Part of the reason experiences stick around longer than memories of material objects is that they are more stimulating – and a lot of fun! Take a camping or caravan trip as the perfect example. According to, it’s not just the trip itself that is inspiring. It’s the excitement of the buildup, as well as the sense of escapism that children – and adults – will remember most.

Experiences help you form shared memories

Finally, when your kids are older, what do you think they will talk about when recalling their childhoods? There might be the occasional reference to a favourite cuddly toy, or the first bike – but beyond that, it will all be about shared memories. Siblings and cousins will recall the family holidays and days out, or the trip to the sports stadium to watch a stunning game. It’s the spirit of an event they will remember – more than any new toy, gadget, or plaything.

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