I don't want a lot for Christmas. In fact, there is just one thing I need.
At the very least, an experience that can't be found within walking distance of my house.
It could be because of the many weekends spent ruthlessly Marie Kondo-ing my belongings, feeling lighter with every item tossed away.
Or, the monotony that comes with level 4 and 3, but either way, I'm not dreaming of presents under the tree.
Instead, I'm fantasising about long road trips and natural spring spas, luxury lodges and scenic helicopter rides. Novel and thrilling that will become treasured memories with friends and family.
Despite being a Gen-Z in lockdown, I know this desire is exclusive to my age group or circumstance.
We've seen the headlines for a few years now, as research studies and international surveys continue to gather evidence for what we've seen first-hand: the rise of the experience economy.
A phenomenon where, unlike generations before, we choose to spend our savings on travel and education before material items.
The motivation behind the shift is varied. Some cite FOMO (fear of missing out) after scrolling through their friends' social media feeds. Others have grown weary of materialism and prefer to spend money on memories.
In a world where reports of loneliness are on the rise, people also say lived experiences and events provide a sense of connection to other and the wider community.
No matter the reason, science shows that, if it's happiness you're after, the surf lesson or music festival beats the latest fashion accessory or tech gadget.
In a 2020 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a team of researchers published a paper titled "Spending on Doing Promotes More Moment-to-Moment Happiness than Spending on Having."
The title doesn't leave much to the imagination.
As expected, regardless of how or when you measure happiness (before, during or after consuming something), or the cost of the item, happiness was higher for experiential purchases.
Yet, how could this be? You can only 'have' an experience once while a new handbag or piece of furniture can be enjoyed countless times.
The key, said the researchers, were memories; something that can grow stronger and sweeter over time, while material goods wear and tear.
"If you want to be happier, it might be wise to shift some of your consumption away from material goods and a bit more toward experiences," the paper's author Amit Kumar said.
"That would likely lead to greater well-being."
This is only one of the thousands of studies, all reporting a similar truth: if we're after some long-lasting joy this summer (or any season really), we're better off getting out and doing something new.
Although, if it's tricky to work out what to buy your best friend, brother, mother in law or dad, it's just as challenging to pick an experience they'll treasure.
And that's before trying to sneak a peek at their calendars to book a date they are free.
Enter, gift vouchers. Not for shops but tourism operators across Aotearoa.
A win-win that will #supportlocal and create joyful memories that last longer than the latest gadget or accessory.
To check out some of New Zealand's best experience gift vouchers, visit Tourism New Zealand's new online gifting hub.