Dec. 5—Finding the right gift for those you love can be a time-consuming task. However, I've learned from studying behavioral finance that buying more stuff won't make you, or those you love, happy.
The ritual holiday shopping bonanza at this time of year is primarily an attempt by the advertising world to whip us into a frenzy of consumeristic gluttony. Our national obsession with holiday gifting is a ploy manufactured by advertisers to make companies rich and consumers poor.
So, what to do? No one wants to be the Scrooge who scorns holiday cheer.
Fortunately, economists have unlocked a secret to optimal gift-giving. While more stuff won't bring much happiness, meaningful experiences do fill us with joy. This holiday, give your friends and family an experience that helps them connect with you and those they love.
As a bonus, most experiential gifts tend to support your local economy and small businesses.
To help with your gift-giving, here are some local, experienced-based gifts you can share to help bring more meaning and connection into the life of those you love.
1. A gift card to Ten Thousand Waves. Who wouldn't enjoy a massage or hot tub at the Waves? A long-standing icon in the Santa Fe tourist scene, the Waves is also a haven for locals looking for a quick getaway from the ordinary.
2. Tickets to The Exodus Ensemble. If you know theater lovers, give them the magic of The Exodus Ensemble. While not kid-friendly, these small, intimate performances with a max audience size of 15 to 20 people are dazzling. Their mind-bending shows are offered on a sliding scale to ensure they are accessible to all, while delivering a truly unique experience.
3. Music, music, music. The Santa Fe music scene is hopping with opportunities for music lovers. From symphony to choral to bluegrass, Santa Fe has much to offer. Just pick up Pasatiempo on Fridays to see what's new and exciting. There are the sublime classical offerings by Santa Fe Pro Musica, sultry rock options at Tumbleroot or the silly Karaoke Night at Boxcar.
4. Gift certificate to a local restaurant. With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, Santa Fe is a foodie heaven. With options for any budget, our city's fantastic collection of restaurants can satisfy any craving.
5. Yoga or fitness class. Santa Fe has a remarkable collection of yoga studios that can help with holiday fitness goals. Santa Fe Thrive, Body, YogaSource and Santa Fe Community Yoga are all excellent choices to help unwind from a stressful year.
6. Albuquerque Rage Room. While it requires a drive down to Albuquerque, a day at the Rage Room is a fun, innovative gift that will allow your loved ones to vent their anger and frustrations on inanimate objects rather than on you.
7. Puzzah Escape Room. Located in the Railyard, Puzzah is a great family outing, date night or way to bond with a group of friends. Lock yourselves in a room, face challenging puzzles in imaginative scenarios, and let the zaniness ensue.
8. Tickets to Ski Santa Fe or Taos Ski Valley offer an outdoor adventure for the sports enthusiast on your gift list.
9. Meow Wolf. One of Santa Fe's most unusual and exotic destinations, the House of Eternal Return is an immersive art exhibit unlike any other.
10. Cooking classes at Santa Fe School of Cooking, Las Cosas and Open Kitchen will delight the chef or food connoisseur on your list.
Besides being a great way to connect with those you love, experiential gifts can be more environmentally friendly than something that will eventually find its way to a landfill.
Spread the joy of the season by making great memories and giving what we all crave most — the experience of connection to those we love.
Doug Lynam is a partner at LongView Asset Management in Santa Fe and a former Benedictine monk. He is the author of From Monk to Money Manager: A Former Monk's Financial Guide to Becoming A Little Bit Wealthy — And Why That's Okay. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org