While my wife and I were driving home from our recent weekend getaway to San Francisco, she read an article to me that really hit home. Rather, it described something I already knew to be true: experiences are far more impactful than material things. Experiences also generally provide greater happiness in the long run. Research shows memories tend to grow fonder with age, whereas things are often quickly forgotten.

Personal case in point: I would much rather spend money on a travel experience than on virtually any new possession. Why? I find traveling far more fulfilling. My wife and I have been on several wonderful trips these past couple years, and I cannot imagine trading them for any material things of similar value. Stuff wears out. Memories last a lifetime. I’d rather have the latter.


Our iceberg tour in Twillingate, Newfoundland was one of my favorite experiences of 2015

The article also described the benefits of gifting experiences rather than things, but acknowledged that material gifts have their place. For this the author supplied the  “four gift rule” (which is apparently fairly well known, but is new to me):

  1. Something you want
  2. Something you need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

So simplifying. Make the rest experiences.

Starting this Christmas, my wife and I have decided to start focusing on gifting experiences rather than things. We know that completely changing our gift buying habits won’t happen immediately, but we have already had some great ideas for some of our extended family and friends.

It’s utterly cliché, but the best things in life aren’t things. Make memories and take photographs. Remember the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met. Ditch the stuff. You can’t take it with you anyway.