Experiences trump objects.
There’s tons of data to suggest that people who spend their money on life experiences – travel, games, concerts – are happier than those who spend on things like clothes or cars. The same principle applies to gift giving. Ryan Howell, a psychologist at San Francisco State University who has studied the phenomenon, says that, even when someone is anticipating a material gift, they’re excited to get something actionable instead. “If they wanted a watch but got a weekend trip, they were still happy,” says Howell. “If they were expecting a trip but got a watch, they were upset.”
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