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Experiences might be better than material things

OK, we’re in the midst of a pandemic and at the start of the holiday shopping season.

Money is tight and the jobless rate is higher than normal because of COVID-19.

So what should you do?

How about giving the gift of experience, said Andrea Hoover, an agent with West Virginia University Extension Service.

“With COVID, it’s hard to get out and shop. And several people have lost their jobs, and have a limited income. You can give experiences that are free, or cost very little and share quality time with those you love,” she said. 

Hoover, who is based in Greenbrier County, said experiences build memories and people really don’t need “stuff” anymore.

“A sweater will get worn a few times and then tossed in the back of the closet,” Hoover said. “A new watch will only be new for a few weeks — experiences make memories that can last forever.”

Research has found memories tend to last longer than material things and make people happier, she said. 

“People can’t pick out things you like and you end up with gifts you don’t use or take back,” she said. “Experiences allow people to do something, and not have to find a place in their house for it. A spa day or movie night is a great experience that fits perfect and won’t end up in the re-gift closet.”

Hoover said her rule for gift-giving is simple. If you can’t eat, drink or go to it, then she doesn’t want it.

“I don’t need more ‘things’ to try to be and find a place for.”

People also adapt to physical things and tend to be less happy with material purchases over time and happier with experiences, she said.

“This year, consider giving the gift of an experience. Maybe it’s a golf lesson or a gym membership. Gifts could include cooking classes or a stained glass-making course. If the person you are buying for is adventurous, you might purchase a scuba diving class or whitewater trip. Perhaps you want to give a gift to new parents; consider a night of babysitting so that the couple can enjoy a night out.”

Other experience-related gift ideas from Hoover include painting, pottery, flower arranging or dance classes, museum passes, theater tickets, gift cards or a meal delivery service. 

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