It’s undoubtedly true that we live in a consumer society, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for clothes, gadgets, household goods, cars, phones, toys… The list goes on. Imbedded in this culture we have been accustomed to lavish gift buying for family, friends and loved ones without question and expect the same in return.
Not that there’s anything essentially wrong with that; if you are going to question a consumer-driven society then it seems slightly churlish, if not downright mean, to question the act of gift giving as the primary problem (the exchange of gifts has gone on for centuries after all). However, we are seeing evidence of a change in approach – a steady shift away from buying goods and towards buying experiences and intangible presents instead.
An overabundance of ‘stuff’?
The reason for this, in addition to novelty, is simple and practical what ‘stuff’ do people actually need nowadays? Have we become such avid consumers that, really, a physical gift from someone is now surplus to requirements? Perhaps as a result of this more and more people are turning to the idea of vouchers, gifts and experiences for loved ones on birthdays, anniversaries and religious holidays.
In part, technology has helped to make this possible. Although Red Letter Days, a company built around offering experiences as gifts, has been around for years, it’s really with the advent of an abundance of voucher websites, such as Groupon, that gift buying in this way has really gained momentum. It’s perhaps more common now to buy a spa treat, meal for two or even plastic surgery as a gift for someone rather than a physical gift.
It’s a lovely way to treat someone and rather than unwanted material items it provides a treat that they genuinely may not otherwise have got themselves which is what the best gift has always aimed to be. It also avoids the problem of unwanted gifts piling up and cluttering the home what do you do with them? It also shows a degree of thought you buy a gift to suit the recipient and to match their interests.
The rise of ‘Birthday Botox’
For some, particularly with a loved one, vouchers for plastic surgery or spa weekends are often considered. Far from cosmetic treatments being taboo, or even offensive, it’s now seen as a luxury that would be well-received as a gift.
Clinics have seen evidence of this, as Plastic Surgeon Adrian Richards explains:
When people are surrounded by all the material goods they need it’s hard to know what to get the person who has everything. Cosmetic treatments are a luxurious treat that can be a real boost for a loved one. We see couples coming in for birthday Botox, or even breast enlargement purchased as a gift.
Not only is it a thoughtful way to buy, it’s better for the environment too. With the warnings of conspicuous consumption all around us, luxury experiences such as an expensive dinner or cosmetic treatments or pampering, allow us to feel the pleasure of receiving a luxurious gift without the guilt.