CareOne notes a vacation will bring more joy than an iPad or pair of boots

COLUMBIA, Md., Oct. 8—The holiday shopping season is here again. For many consumers, this means another year of stretching budgets and stressful searches to find the perfect presents for family, friends and coworkers.   But this year’s must-have holiday gift can’t be found in the mall.  It’s the gift of a memorable experience, designed to produce longer-lasting satisfaction for everyone on your list.

According to a recent New York Times article,  studies on consumption show that people are happier when they spend money on experiences - concert tickets, French lessons, woodworking classes - rather than material objects. Since the Great Recession began,  consumers have been more likely to spend time at home watching movies or playing games than browsing the latest fashion trends at the mall.

“Holiday traditions are designed to bring people together and allow us to feel part of a family or group,” says Jenny Realo,  consumer finance expert and executive vice president of CareOne Services Inc. “Our culture has grown too commercial, so this season is the perfect opportunity to step back and show appreciation for loved ones in a new way.”

Unlike material goods, experiences provide longer-lasting happiness that people will remember for years. Scholars contend that experiences provide memories because they take more time for people to adapt and engage with, than a new game system or piece of clothing.  

New research also shows the desire for experiences led to the growth of social media, because people seek new experiences to share with friends through pictures and videos online.

CareOne offers six ideas for experience gifts:  

  • Tickets – All kinds of events surround the holiday season for the New Year.  Consider purchasing a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert for a niece, tickets to the local symphony for your grandparents or tickets to see their favorite team for the sports fan on your list.
  • Foreign Language – With the move towards globalization bringing us in contact with different backgrounds and cultures on a regular basis, many people could benefit from learning a new language. A class in Mandarin or Spanish may be an ideal gift for your businessman brother.
  • New Skill – Does your best friend rave about wanting sushi every time you go out for dinner? This is a great opportunity to sign her up for a sushi-rolling class. Has your sister taken up scrapbooking? Consider enrolling her in a class to learn the latest trends and techniques at the local craft or hobby store.
  • Music – Your son or daughter could be the next child star. Guitar or singing lessons may be a wonderful experience for him or her. At the same time, your parents may love watching the stars dance on television. Register them for ballroom lessons to put some spice in their lives.
  • Beauty – You may notice your boss is always complaining about a stiff back. A massage appointment could be the answer to that pinched nerve. A new hairdo could also be the makeover your aunt needs to get excited about dating after her divorce.
  • Vacation – The holidays are the ideal time to invest in a vacation for the family. What about a destination trip to Hawaii?  Or maybe it is a nice fishing trip for your husband and son, since they live in different cities. Whatever the destination, you are sure to produce memories that will be treasured more than a new Blu-Ray or sweater.

“A meaningful experience for a family or friend is the best gift this year,” Realo says. “And even better if the giver can participate as well, a shared memory is something far beyond what a material gift can offer.

About CareOne

CareOne Services Inc. is a debt relief company formed in 2002 to provide consumers with multiple solutions to complex money issues.  CareOne takes a holistic approach to assisting customers in debt and reviews each situation to create achievable financial solutions. CareOne’s services include credit counseling, debt management, debt settlement, as well as free referrals to bankruptcy attorneys if that is in the best interest of the consumer.

CareOne also provides the My CareOne community (,  a free online resource for consumers that includes educational tools,  blogs and forums where more than a million people share their experiences and receive support from others in similar situations.

Headquartered in Columbia, Md.,  CareOne has helped more than 2 million people. In 2009, it provided consumers with the tools and assistance to pay down more than $294 million in debt. CareOne provides services in 41 states. For more information, call 1-800-373-3225 or visit

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