“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” While holiday music has been playing before the leaves changed from green to gold to gone, Christmas shopping has shifted dramatically over the last few years. Most gift lists of the past had a similar outline: Picture frames for new moms, tools for the guys, candles for your BFF, and PJs and sweaters tagged for Grandma. The gifting trend today is centered on giving people an experience that showcases all that life has to offer through doing things, not dusting things. Our homes are overflowing with stuff, which has people opting out of accumulating more and seeking experiences instead. According to the Harris Group, 74 percent prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things. Here are some experiences versus things to try:
- Pile on. How many checkmarks can you acquire with one experience? Instead of meeting a friend after work for a drink, you can now book a 14-passenger bike tour that provides fun, exercise and camaraderie as you explore more than one brewery and bar throughout downtown. Check out Birmingham Pedal Tours.
- Access over ownership. Who needs to own a car when you have the Lyft and Uber apps? There’s even an alternative to owning or leasing. Birmingham’s Dream Garage subscription lets you flip between cars as your needs change. “Drive SUVs for family trips, fun sports cars for date nights and luxury sedans for the daily commute.” Unlimited “flips” included, so who needs the beater car in the driveway anymore?
- Enjoyment and entertainment. Remember the days when you bought your Christmas tree (that someone else picked and cut down) at the hardware store? Now we’re willing to a pay premium price to go to the farm to pick them ourselves. Neely Farms in Thorsby offers “an experience that will create memories for you and your family. Visit the gift shop, sit by the fire and enjoy hot chocolate and spiced tea.” Even a trip to Target includes stopping first to pick up a venti latte, then browsing with Chip and Joanna before heading over to electronics to look at the options on upgrading your doorbell to a video camera.
Studies have found that spending money on experiences brings more lasting joy than spending money on things—this explains the explosion of the “experience economy.” Checkout what Airbnb has to offer this holiday season. You might find a wine tasting tour in Vermont (yes, it’s pet-friendly so Toto can come along too) that would be perfect for Grandma. A bottle of rosé is better than pink PJs any day. It’s that simple.