Experiences make meaningful, affordable gifts

By Jonah Kramer | Staff Writer

Amid a holiday season full of joyous occasions, family traditions and a break from school, buying gifts can be a real stressor — but it doesn’t have to be.

The whole point of buying someone a gift is to show you care about them, and a wrapped present isn’t the only way to express appreciation. Especially for college students on tight budgets, there is no shame in opting for an alternative to physical gifts.

It’s probably not feasible for any of us to purchase a present for every single person in our lives whom we care about. So, what can we do instead?

Spending intentional time with loved ones creates lasting memories, shows people you care about them and reduces the stress and financial burden of finding a present.

The same time that could be spent surfing online for a good deal, frantically pacing aisles or trying to discreetly figure out what someone wants is instead converted into a fun activity both individuals will remember fondly.

When distance prevents meeting up, consider a personalized card or letter. The affirming words can boost self-confidence, deepen connections and stand out in comparison to other gifts.

Even with an unlimited cash supply, I would still argue giving experiences or heartfelt messages can be a better option than a traditional present because it reduces the potential that the gift you give is unwanted or wasteful.

Most everyone has received a present they rarely use, not to mention gift cards that are misplaced or forgotten about (go ahead, check your wallets). Nationally, billions of dollars in gift cards remain unspent, with the average American possessing $175 worth of gift cards.

The gift of an experience can adjust to fit financial constraints and can range from driving around town to look at Christmas lights to attending a concert or sporting event.

I am not arguing you should never purchase something for a friend or family member, as I do recognize a physical gift could be the best option in some situations. Take, for example, someone whose love language is receiving gifts, or another who is really in need of a specific item.

What I am arguing is that the tradition of exchanging clothes and gift cards is not a one-size-fits-all way to express love and generosity during the holiday season. Consider gifting your loved ones experiences over material items.