Gifts of Experience Benefit Relationships

December 4, 2017, 2:29 pm | Barbara Dunn Swanson, Laura Sternweis

Holiday GiftsAMES, Iowa -- As the holiday season approaches, so does the holiday checklist of things to do, like baking, cleaning, attending kids’ school programs and shopping for gifts. While those tasks may be fun, they also may be stressful. Especially gift shopping, says Barbara Dunn Swanson, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“You may wonder if you have saved enough money to buy all the items on your gift giving list. You also may be stressed trying to find all the requested gifts your children seem to have this time of year,” said Dunn Swanson, who specializes in family life issues.

“As you consider purchasing gifts, talk with your family. Help them understand your financial situation so they have reasonable expectations about spending and gift giving. You also may consider options that don’t involve money,” Dunn Swanson said.

A study reported in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that many people find providing an experience for someone else is more fulfilling than giving a material gift. The research suggested that providing experiences might strengthen relationships between people.

“During the holiday season, instead of giving gifts that need to be purchased, wrapped and delivered, maybe we can re-think our gift giving strategy. What if we were to give a skill or a helping hand to someone we care about? Consider giving your time to someone else,” Dunn Swanson said.

For example, offer to help someone wrap gifts or address holiday cards. Give someone a ride to the store and help with grocery or other shopping. Spend a day at the senior center to visit residents and listen to their stories.

“These are priceless gifts of attention that many of us can give and that others certainly will appreciate,” Dunn Swanson said.

“Take care of yourself and your family, too,” Dunn Swanson added. “Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and take time to exercise. The care we give to one another today will have benefits for years to come.”

ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialists provide information and education on family relationships and caregiving; nutrition and wellness; and family finance. For more information, visit your ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

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