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Get a handle on the toys by putting a stop to the gifts!

by respaced on June 18, 2010

I work with a lot of moms, who are trying to to get a handle on their children’s voluminous toy collection. I ask them where all of these toys come from, and learn that they are often gifts or hand-me-downs from well-meaning relatives. So I tell them about several studies that have shown that gifts of experience create more happiness for the recipient than gifts that are objects.

This is because people relive and tell about experiences more than objects. Memories of experiences tend to get better with age while memories of objects do not. Also, any happiness associated with acquiring an object fades as that object gets compared to similar objects acquired by friends and neighbors. But memories of experiences do not get compared in this way. Finally, we tend to remember more fondly the time we spent with others during an experience than we do the time we spent by ourselves acquiring an object. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I encourage parents to remind relatives before birthdays and gift-giving holidays that they would rather the relatives give an experience than a gift to the child. A trip to the zoo, to get ice-cream, to go ice-skating, or to the movies will create memories that last a lifetime, while a toy will be forgotten after about a month and become clutter.

Awe-inspiring image of toy clutter courtesy of Portland. If your house looks like this, PLEASE call me!

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