Give a little pleasure for Christmas
experiences make the best gifts
Did you know that giving someone an experience makes them happier than giving them a physical gift?
The idea that an experience that only lasts for a short period of time compared to a physical gift can make you happier for longer seems wrong. But there is a load of scientific research that confirms this, and we’re going to use this article to help explain why. And while we’re at it we’re going to recommend some awesome experiences around the UK that you can ask for as presents, or gift to someone else.
The excitement about Christmas is at fever pitch in our household right now, and we’re only just into December. Obviously some of this excitement is about the toys the boys are going to get as presents, but surprisingly, they’re probably more excited about going to cut down the Christmas Tree, decorating it, and about going to see all the Christmas lights. And about seeing the whole family on Christmas Day, about singing along to all the Christmas songs, and whole heap of other experiences they remember from last year. And according to the research, the anticipation is greater for experiences than for material gifts, and this is only one of the reasons why experiences make us happier.
Experiences don’t happen alone, they happen in groups or pairs. And even the most curmudgeonly old *** will get pleasure out of shared experiences. Studies have shown that even the shyest, quietest of people need community contact and social experiences, even if they find them uncomfortable. And most of us love a chinwag with friends, family, and often total strangers during and after shared experiences, and get huge value out of them.
And the best experience gifts keep on giving for many years. Shared experiences sometimes become part of family folklore. Our favourite is the one of Uncle Pete falling off the paddleboard, and a seal popping up behind him to say hello. And every time we told him to turn around to see, it disappeared again. Over and over
Getting it wrong
If most people are asked which they think they will get more value from, an experience or a material gift, they will say gift. A study a few years ago looked into this. They asked people before the gift/experience which they thought would make them most happy. And they asked them again after the gift/experience which had made them happier. And the majority of people overestimated how much pleasure they got from material gifts, and underestimated how much pleasure they got from experiences.
Experiences Don’t Invite Competition Or Envy
Every experience is unique and is difficult to compare with something else. And they’re very individual. So unlike a new phone, or a new handbag, the gift is unlikely to be compared directly other gifts, particularly at times like Christmas or birthdays when people received multiple gifts. And this even effects the gift giver’s pleasure as well. It never feels nice knowing that someone has bought the same present or you, or that their present has upstaged yours. And that disappointment can set in even as you’re thinking ‘it’s the thought that counts’ to yourself.
Physical gifts lose their value quickly
Emotionally, the value of a gift to someone decreases from the moment that they first open it. And the more additional gifts someone gets, the lower the value gets. In terms of happiness and the hormones associated with happiness, this has been proved in research studies. The best way to explain this is to think about it in terms of kit. Think of that GPS sports watch you’ve been lusting over for months, but can’t justify the cost. If someone buys it for you, you will be thrilled. Your heart might even skip a beat. Your endocrine system will be flooded with pleasure hormones and you will be buzzing. But here’s the thing. Once you’ve got it, that watch becomes part of your new normal and your happiness levels return to their normal level. And here’s the important thing - you don’t get a buzz every time you use it. You might value it still, it might be very useful, it might even improve your paddling. But you don’t get the same release of hormones. You might get a buzz from the paddling you do while wearing it, but you don’t need the watch to get that buzz. In fact, the only way to get that same buzz from a GPS sports watch is to buy a new and upgraded one. (There is a technical term for this, ‘the hedonic treadmill’).
The same isn’t true for experiences. An experience gift gives a buzz when given, and buzz associated with the anticipation, another one when used, and then memories of the experience keep producing happy hormones far into the future. In fact a future conversation with a stranger about something entirely random can trigger that memory and release the pleasure hormones again.
So what will you choose?
So there you have it. Experiences actually make us happier for longer than material gifts. So now the only thing to consider is how to go about giving someone an experience. About the only thing that’s better than an experience in terms of happiness and value is a material gift that allows someone to generate their own new experience. Like an inflatable SUP for example. But we’ll save that thought for another blog!
So if you’re convinced, here are some of the very best experiences that we’ve pulled together from McConks friends, acquaintances and partners around the country.
If you’re not convinced, then why not buy a Universal SUP gift card that can be used for experiences or for SUP related equipment at ever increasing number of retailers.
SUP introductory sessions for beginners
There are an increasing number of schools, instructors and providers who offer introductory sessions around the country. And if you check out www.suphubuk.com, you will find that most of the schools on the map will offer an introductory SUP session for no more than £30 – £40.
Bath Paddleboard centre are one such example. They are a Water Skills Academy (WSA) accredited school which means that they know what they’re talking about! They offer a basic introductory 1.5 hour session which will have you standing by the end of it. The course covers everything you need to know to get paddling, but they also offer improver lessons and safe paddler lessons for intermediate paddlers. All set on the stunning River Avon in Bath, Trowbridge or Bradford on Avon.
As you might expect with the fastest growing watersport in the world, it’s getting easier and easier to find somewhere safe to hire a SUP board without needing to book an instructor. Obviously you don’t get the advice and assistance from an instructor, which means that you might learn bad habits from day 1 which are then very difficult to forget. But this is a popular option for a lower cost gift.
In the heart of the Cotswold Water Park, Cotswold water park hire is a great little spot for hiring SUP, canoes, kayaks or rowing boats. And Tom and Josh are also senior paddlesports instructors who run RapidSkills, so they’re always happy to offer some advice if you’re struggling.
For the more adventurous, why not get vouchers for SUP hire delivered to the door? With the low cost SUP rental offered by SUP by post, you can help people create their own experiences and adventures. To go exploring in their time, in their own way. It’s easy to book online, and costs from as little as £10 per day for a full SUP package including inflatable SUP board, carbon fibre paddle, buoyancy aid and dry bag.
Both CWPhire and SUPbypost accept Universal SUP gift cards. CWP hire also offer their own gift cards.
Adrenaline junkies – whitewater SUP
If you’re looking for a present for an adrenaline junkie, an experience with Stand Up Paddle Boarding UK might be just the thing. Based in Llangollen, North Wales, Stand Up Paddle Boarding UK are the first whitewater SUP tuition providers in the UK. The undisputed king of WWSUP, Anthony Ing, offers tuition and experiences on the River Dee. But they also offer a whole lot more besides, from flat water SUP, to archery to whitewater rafting. So they have something for everyone, from absolute beginners to experts.
Do you know someone who is a bit of a SUP expert and thinking about their next steps? Maybe they’re thinking about doing some training and getting accredited?
Why not get them a voucher for some structured SUP training? Getafix is one of the best known paddlesports training providers in the UK. Leo and Anna have trained many of the up and coming and leading paddlers in the UK, and they offer the British Canoeing SUP discipline support module for £80. Find out more on their website.
Every day it seems that there are more guided adventures and holidays being promoted. You can check out the events calendar on SUPhubUK to see just a small fraction of the expeditions and adventures offered.
The Norfolk Broads is a beautiful spot for a guided adventure. Although lots of fun can be had exploring the broads and the Norfolk coast by yourself, there are so many hidden gems that you risk missing if you go without a guide.
For simple hire or tuition, check out BoardinSkool. For guided adventures in the backwaters of Broads, whether this be on SUP or in a kayak, check out Norfolk Outdoor Adventures.
BoardinSkool accept Universal SUP Gift cards
On the other side of the River Thames in Kent, Lucy at Whitstable SUP is a qualified guide and instructor, and offers guided lessons and experiences (romantic sunset paddle with Champagne anyone?) on the River Stour and around the stunning Kent coast
Christmas is the time of year for peace, love and happiness, right?. So we couldn't write an article about SUP experiences as a Christmas gift without mentioning Psyched SUP's singles SUP events.
OK - so clearly you need to know the person your giving this gift to pretty well, or it might backfire. But this is such an awesome experience. Giving the gift of love through paddleboarding. What's not to love?
If we've failed in our mission to persuade you to buy SUP experiences rather than SUP gifts, please make sure you buy ethical or sustainable presents, or ones that can be used to make an experience.
Or how about a top of the range, beautiful bamboo / carbon SUP paddle.