Here we are – it’s almost Christmas! Did you procrastinate on your holiday shopping…again? I know that feeling all too well. We promise ourselves every year that THIS Christmas will be different. We will get ALL of our shopping down within a week after Thanksgiving. I will NOT procrastinate! Ah, those false promises we make to ourselves! We mean well – we are sincere when we make these promises. And yet, Christmas seems to sneak up on all too many of us. So, now it’s time to do that mad scramble. Is it possible to still get some good gifts? It sure is! And I have some wonderful last minute gift ideas for you. Better yet, these gift ideas are likely to be a hit because the advice is based upon psychological principles of happiness.
Does Money Buy Happiness?
The short answer is, no, money doesn’t buy happiness. One study found that incomes beyond $75,000/year had no impact on well-being. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, material objects tend not to provide much happiness because of something called the hedonic treadmill (or hedonic adaptation). That is, we tend to adapt relatively quickly to the acquisition (and loss) of material things. Our happiness level returns to baseline levels as we adjust to material objects.
We can reflect on our own experiences to see the truth in this. How long did the happiness from a new smartphone, car, watch, or HDTV last? Think back to the toys that you received for Christmas growing up. If you were like most kids, the anticipation leading up to getting the presents was actually more exciting than moments after opening the gifts. In essence, for the most part, material objects don’t provide a good return on investment. So, what are some good last minute gift ideas?
Last Minute Gift Ideas?
So, I am going to encourage you NOT to run out to the store and buy a material gift. What could you get instead? What could you get in time for Christmas that will deliver some happiness? The answer is: experiences. There is a huge body of research that indicates most of our happiest times in life are experiences. It is not diamond earrings, fancy cars, or new gadgets. Think of your own happiest times in life. Chances are that they were some time of experience such as a vacation or concert, often with close friends or family.
My advice is buy your friend, family member, or loved one(s) tickets to a concert, musical, performance, or perhaps to a bed & breakfast. Even a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant can make a wonderful gift. The great thing is, you can do these searches online and find many fantastic options and just print the tickets from home.
As a bonus, we also receive a bump to our happiness just by anticipating that we are going to do something fun or new. We can reflect on our experiences to see the truth of this. Putting an event on the calendar can lead us to a feeling of excitement that builds as the event grows closer. If you are still in need of last minute gift ideas, consider buying experiences. These build memories that can be treasured for a lifetime.