The festive holidays can be a complicated time of year. On the one hand, we know that it is a special time of year to spend with loved ones and extend kindness. On the other hand, we are bombarded with emails and adverts trying to get us to part with our money, while stressed out people try to search for the ‘perfect’ gifts. It can all get a bit much!
The Beatles once taught us that money can’t buy you love. In short, you can’t put a price on happiness. So perhaps it is about time we all stopped worrying about how full the Christmas stocking is and focus on those moments that truly make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
So what exactly are those moments?
Research from Cornell University (Gilovich, 2014) has shown that people are happier when money is spent on ‘experience’ gifts (such as a show, holiday or meal out), rather than a material gift (such as games console or clothing).
This means that the recipient can share the experience with the buyer, strengthening relationships and creating meaningful memories. It really is a win-win situation.
Here are just a few suggestions to help you think about Christmas this year, minus the shopping stress:
- Consider “buying” moments for a loved one. Suggestions include a night away, a meal, a concert or trip to the cinema. Try to leave all of your other commitments to one side and dedicate the time to the person you are gifting, for example clear you diary and switch off your phone!
- Rather than buying Secret Santa gifts for a group of friends or colleagues, make a date together to enjoy the festive celebrations in each other’s company – a party or a meal and drinks out, for example. There is lots of evidence to show that developing and deepening social bonds, rather than spending money on presents, are the key to happiness and cultivating relationships.
- Forget your ‘wish list.’ Materialistic people are less happy than their peers and seem to constantly search for the next ‘thing’ that will make them happy. Instead, let your friends and family know that all you want for Christmas is their time.
- Use the Christmas holidays to express your gratitude. Take some time out of your hectic schedule and jot some notes down in a gratitude journal, or better still, use your time with friends and family to tell them what they mean to you (or if you’re better at expressing emotion through words, write a heartfelt note in a card).
This Christmas you need not be up to your eyeballs in wrapping paper. You canswap the time you spend frustrated in queues at the shops, for quality time with the people who matter to you. That sounds like genuine Christmas cheer!