There was meticulous early 1990’s scholastic study on gift giving by Richard Beltramini and Cele Otnes to find out the answers to several questions on the topic. The two researchers searched through previous research of many disciplines published in Gift Giving: A research Anthology in 1996. They included an article written by Dr. Russell Belk in their Research Anthology who looked into the question of, “What makes the idyllic gift”. Now you don’t have to wonder any longer what makes a great gift. Here are six factors that explain the question and how experience gifts can meet them.

1 – Gift Giver Makes Surprising Sacrifice – It sounds like the gift giver spends a lot of money buying the perfect gift but this doesn’t mean that. Rather, the gift giver is spending time and energy on trying to find a gift the recipient will love and enjoy. For instance, you’re searching for some Father’s Day gifts for the loving dad in your family. You know he likes golfing and you want to help him improve his game. If you want unique golf gifts, then consider getting him a golf experience with a PGA pro. This is certainly better than buying new golf clubs every so many years.

2 – Gift Giver Wants to Please Gift Recipient – You don’t want the gift recipient to feel like the gift you give them is convenient. Rather, you want to focus on making them pleased with the gift and you. Scientific evidence shows that people feel more joyfulness from gift experiences than they do when they receive a material present. Thus, when you’re looking for experience gifts as your present you should keep in mind the person’s happiness with it.

3 – Gift Is an Opulence – Any present you purchase should be special but material gifts lack opulence and lavishness. A new shirt or pair of pants is not special but rather boring and practical. Perfect gifts should not be something that meets basic needs but rather something a person would never have bought themselves. Experience gifts fall under this category. What kinds of gifts can you get someone? How about a NASCAR driving experience for that NASCAR fan or a couples massages?

4 – The Gift is unique and Appropriate for The Intended Recipient – How many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts”? While, yes, thought is necessary and important, it’s only that when it’s done just right. Say you’re out shopping with a friend who says, “I’d love to be able buy this or have it” for something he/she picked up. Two months later, your friend is having her/his birthday. A great friend would go back to that store and buy it for him/her. Since the friend didn’t say for her/his birthday, the gift is seen as thoughtful and unique for them. A person who is less thoughtful would buy a gift card with the assumption that their friend would pick it up for themselves. This is why experience gifts are such a great idea. For example, you have a husband who loves to rock climb; you can buy for him a rock climbing experience gift; something he’ll enjoy and is unique for him.

5 – The Gift Is not Expected – True… all gifts, to one degree or another, are a surprise, as they are generally wrapped and boxed up so the gift recipient is not able to see into the package until it’s been opened. If you want to take your gift to the next level, do something unexpected or give something the recipient never asked for. Again, this is where experience gifts come in handy, as most people don’t know they even exist.

6 – The Recipient Wants The Gifts and Loves It – No doubt the perfect gift is the one the recipient really wants but unknowingly. Say your friend has a birthday coming up and loves to cook. Sure, you could purchase new cookware for them and, while it’s practical, it’s not necessarily thoughtful. Instead, buy them an experience gift that allows them the chance to taste samples of different restaurants in their town (local cuisine).

Basically, to be the perfect gift giver, you must give the perfect gift. Find the gift that’s tailored to your recipient. You’ll need to make some sacrifices and be creative. It should be something the recipient wouldn’t get for themselves but something they really do want. When you can adhere to these tips and think beyond the box and material gifts, you can purchase the best experience gifts for your family and friends.