Hello SOTGC community,
The holiday is right in our midst, and you know what that means…presents. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, you will (or have) undoubtedly exchange (d) some sort of gift with some of your friends and family.
The good news is this…giving feels good. Gallup and Harvard research have both shown that spending money on others (rather than yourself) will boost your happiness, and overall wellbeing.
Unfortunately, because of the importance our society places on the exchange of holiday gifts, the material nature of the holidays often overshadows the rest of the holiday spirit. And because of that, I think many of us are giving at this time of the year for the wrong reasons.
In order to shift the energy around gift giving, here are two suggestions:
1. Give a gift that keeps on giving
If we know that giving feels good, it is often true that giving others the ability to give can be an even greater thing.
For a group of college-age employees that I managed one year, I decided to approach my gift buying differently. Instead of buying gifts that may or may not be appreciated, I decided to give gifts that keep on giving.
Oxfam puts on a Christmas campaign called Oxfam Unwrapped, where for a small price you are able to give charitable gifts. Here is a link to check it out – https://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com .
So, I told each employee that they had a certain dollar amount, and that they were to go online and select the gift that would be donated in their name. The options ranged from buying a goat for a family, to providing school books for kids, and even granting small business loans.
My approach was a huge hit, and the staff was so pleased that they were making a difference, especially since many of them did not have loads of extra money with which to be charitable.
2. Give the gift of an “experience”
When shopping, choose the gift of an “experience”, rather than on a material thing. Gallup research suggests that purchasing experiences results in two to three times the level of wellbeing as compared to buying material goods.
Experiences might include a massage, concert/sports tickets, dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, a weekend away, a hot-air balloon ride…use your creativity. And this goes for the kids too…the last thing our kids need is another video game or “toy” that requires batteries.
Material gifts have diminishing returns; the excitement and enjoyment always wears off. As author Tom Rath suggests, with an experience, the experience spans a longer time – the anticipation of the upcoming fun, the actual event itself, and then the lasting memory which lives on.
So, this holiday, I encourage you to keep the wrapping paper on the shelf, and spend your money on gifts that will bring lasting happiness and wellbeing to those in need, to those you love, and ultimately, to yourself.