Every single year, families will spend and, for a few, arguably waste hundreds or thousands of dollars on toys. It does not help that Christmas is conveniently tucked between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Week either.
Forbes reported that in 2016, the average parent was prepared to spend over $1,700 over the holiday season. Personal finance writer, Maya Kachroo-Levine, highlighted how much of that sum was going towards their kids.
“But then, family holidays are definitely valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterwards in their memory. So if you are going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense.”
Scientific Proof That Experiences Mean more Possessions
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Gilovich and research partner T.J. Carter wanted to find out what kind of purchases make us most happy.
As them came to purchasing experiences versus possessions, they learned that people felt more regret about not attending concerts, for instance, as opposed to not buying a piece of furniture.
Gilovich’s 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that what holds our social lives together are our experiences. During his research, he found that experiential purchases:
Enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods
Form an bigger part of a person’s identity
Are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases
Related: New TV Channel ‘True Christmas’ Will Play Only Christmas Movies 24/7
That is Why Child James Emphasizes Spending Money on Family Holidays
Material gifts is temporary, whereas memories is timeless. Children may not appreciate things like nuanced cuisine, fine art, and rich cultural history. And that is a mistake many parents make – expecting their kids to love what they love about vacations. But James puts them beautifully:
Says James. “Children see the world differently, though consumption for example: the way that French cafes have Organgina instead of Fanta is fascinating to kids, and details like that will stick with them for long after the holiday ends”
“Give a two-year-old a present and she’ll get absorbed in the box instead. It’s similar with children and travel. We should let them explore their own ways of finding wonder in their surroundings.”
Between parents who work full-time jobs and children who are school for long hours, time to foster health parent-child relationships has never been more valuable.
To make things more challenging, toys are increasingly accompanied by batteries and screens. As a result, seemingly thoughtful and intimate gifts are ironically distancing family members from each other.
Not all toys are bad!
That’s not what James is saying. However, if you’ve never given your child an experience during the holiday season before, consider doing so this year.
“Because, according to James, what children really value about holidays is the rare possibility they create for prolonged periods of playfulness with their parents.”
Whether it is in your budget to hop on a plane or scout out a secret local spot, these Christmas could be an experience your kids will be unwrapping for life.