An experiential gift makes you closer to the person who gave it to you!

Whether or not money can buy happiness is an idea that everyone contemplates, but the latest research suggests that it can -- to a point. Ask anyone who doesn't have enough money, and they're not likely to say they enjoy stressing to make rent or trying to tough out an injury because they can't pay to see the doctor. But once basic needs are met -- and you're financially stable -- the psychological reward of "being rich" plateaus. Sure you could buy nicer things or the latest tech toy, but science tells us that experiences outweigh more opulent material items -- even when it comes to gift-giving.
As Sarah Gervais, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska writes, "One reason is that we often share experiential purchases with other people. Even when you’ve driven that new car into the ground, you’ll still be telling stories with your family and friends about that time when you went on vacation to Colorado, and you’ll even be chuckling about when the car broke down and you had to spend the night in the shady motel." Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research gave $15 to a control group to spend on a gift for their friends. They were asked to rate their relationships before and after exchanging gifts, and friends who received movie tickets reported feeling closer to those people than others who received things such as wine aerators or articles of clothing. “Experiential gifts evoke greater emotion than material ones, and it’s that emotional intensity that makes us feel more connected to the giver,” says Cassie Mogilner Holmes, an associate professor of marketing at the UCLA. With all that said,  a lot of children perceive a sense of security. They know where their food is coming from, they don't have to pay a mortgage, worry about insurance and a lot of things that adults stress over, which makes us think that experiential gifts may, in fact, be superior to the new iphone, apple watch, or gaming system on their list. Not to mention that most of us want to strengthen our relationships with our children, help them establish relationships with others, allow them to develop their emotional intelligence, build confidence, and have them spend a little less time on their phones, tablets, computers etc. After all, the more positive experiences they have, the more they can share with others, and the more memories they can look back on.  So if you're thinking about giving the gift of experience this year, consider one of these! Cheley Colorado Camps -- Estes Park experiential Cheley has been around since 1921 and provides young people the chance to meet others, learn life skills, and have a blast in one of the most beautiful natural surroundings in the world. With nearly 100 years of practice, attending a Cheley camp is often a multi-generational affair, meaning it could bring kids closer to their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents! Overdrive Raceway -- Colorado Springs experiential Who doesn't love blasting around a track in a go-kart? Overdrive offers two levels of karting, a full bar, food, and something for everyone -- even those with disabilities. Overdrive owner Jim Mundle is a double amputee who wants to make sure everyone is included no matter what. Aspen Flying Club's Discovery Flight -- Centennial [caption id="attachment_29081" align="alignnone" width="553"]experiential photo: aspenflyingclub.com[/caption] Do you know someone who loves aviation? Book them a discovery flight and take in all of those mountain views from the air!   Skiing at Monarch -- Chaffee County [caption id="attachment_29083" align="alignnone" width="519"]experiential photo: Monarchskiguide.com[/caption] We know skiing in Colorado has become outrageously expensive, but if you're willing to cruise down highway 285, you can get to Monarch Ski Area in about three hours and get a lift ticket for $60-$80. Stop by downtown Salida for great food, drink, and coffee.   A Show at The Denver Center For Performing Arts -- Denver experiential Catch your favorite broadway musicial, world-class concert, or improv performance right in the heart of downtown, then hit up Pizza Republica for a market board and a bite of pizza. Music Lessons at Swallow Hill -- Highlands - Lowry - Englewood experiential Whether you're looking to brush up on your playing, learn a new instrument, or explore a new genre, Swallow Hill has something for everyone at all levels. What are your thoughts, people? Do you have an experience you'd like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to hear more about what's going on in Colorado? Did you know you can do yoga on ice?