Winning at gift buying; the shift towards gifts that mean something

December 20th, 2018

It’s a bit of a cliche, but the same question comes up every Christmas time:

What do you buy for the person that has everything?

It can be a real head-scratcher. We all want the presents we give to be memorable and something the giftee will get really excited about, but in practice, it can be pretty hard to think of a gift that fits the bill and is something that they haven’t already got themselves!

That’s why Australia has seen a huge uptick in giving ‘experiences’ not ‘things’.

Here are ten great ideas for Christmas presents that are thoughtful, memorable and won’t end up in an op-shop when the new year rolls around.


Charitable Gifts

You’ve probably seen these around for a few years. Instead of buying your friends and family presents you take the money you would have spent and buy gifts for a community in need like a goat, medicine or school supplies.

It might seem like it isn’t the right present for everyone but when $620 million is spent on unwanted gifts in Australia every year, there are certainly worse options to spend your money on.

There is also a fair bit of research that shows that giving is highly linked to happiness.


‘Once in a Lifetime’ Experiences

If you’re looking for a way to make someone happy with your present, science says that giving an ‘experience’ is the way to go.

There are a few reasons why:

  • The excitement lasts longer: When you get a shiny new gift, excitement peaks when it is unwrapped and then tails off every day after. But when you get a once in a lifetime experience like skydiving or a hot lap in a racing car, you still get excited when you get it on Christmas Day, and that excitement only builds as you move closer to the experience date.
  • You’re less likely to compare it: If you buy someone a pair of Beats by Dre headphones, they can always compare them to other brands or even different colours. Sure, they might still love their new Beats, but is green really their colour? By contrast, how many bungee jumps or helicopter rides have they been on? They call them ‘Once in a Lifetime’ experiences for a reason.
  • They are more memorable and often more social: When an experience is unique, we usually remember it for a long time. On top of that, if you buy someone an ‘experience’ gift, you’re usually not just sending them off on their own. That means your not just buying them concert tickets to their favourite band; you’re buying them a night out with you (or another friend) to ‘experience’ their favourite band together.


A Night Out

This one is particularly great for couples with kids.

If you’ve got little ones running around, you’ll know how hard it is to eke out some quality time alone. By buying them something like a restaurant voucher or Gold Class cinema tickets, you force them to plan a night out together. The voucher’s expiry date gives them a deadline to book!

It is like an excuse to spend a little time on themselves (and, let’s face it, kids or not who isn’t going to love that?).


A ‘Better Yourself’ Gift

Almost every person has that interest that they’ve always wanted to get into but never felt they had the time.

Whether we’re talking about learning French, how to play guitar or making your own pasta from scratch, buying a lesson for someone gives them the excuse to start working on themselves.


A ‘Put it Towards…’ Gift

Sometimes you know exactly what a friend or family member wants, but it is a little too extravagant for your budget.

So why not just help them on their way to their goal instead?

The best way to execute this gift is if you give them funds in a way that represents what you want them to put it towards, so it doesn’t seem like you just took the easy way out and got them cash. For example, if they are planning to build their own greenhouse or garden shed, buy them a Bunnings voucher. Or, if they are going on an overseas holiday, get them a travel card topped up with the currency of the country they are travelling to.

If you do need to give them cash, decorate the envelope a little in the theme of what the funds are going towards.


Weekend Getaway Gift

An upgrade on the ‘Night Out’ gift, if you really want your friends or family to treat themself, why not buy them a couple of nights out of town?

The same logic applies as the dinner date. By getting them an accommodation voucher, all of a sudden the clock starts ticking. They have to book their getaway or they are ‘wasting’ your present.


Membership Gift

A final gift idea, if you really can’t think of anything for a friend or family member, just buy them something they are already paying for.

From gym membership to magazine subscriptions, most people have extra monthly expenses. You already know that it is something they want to spend their money on, so as far as gifts go, it is a pretty safe bet.

Sure, you might not feel like this kind of present rates very high on the ‘thoughtfulness scale’, but at least you know they’ll use it.


Have you got any stories about giving or receiving ‘experience’ presents? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re looking to spread the cost of the ‘experience’ gifts you’re buying friends and family, don’t forget Nimble offers a simple, stress-free way to borrow up to $5,000.


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