Why more people are preferring meaningful gifts to material goods

Christmas is fast approaching – and at times like these, people are increasingly thinking about giving something else besides material goods: Meaningful gifting is in more demand than ever, says futurologist Hannes Fernow.

Every year it’s the same story. All of a sudden, it’s Christmas time again – and we start to wonder what gifts to choose. But it is really the same this year? Not really. After all, the circumstances surrounding this year’s traditional festive season have changed fundamentally. Never before have so many people questioned the meaning of giving as in these times of crisis.

Is it really necessary to put so many parcels under the tree, and does it really have to be consumer goods? How can I give my loved ones something with a greater meaning? How do I find something that is very personal on the one hand, but has a sustainable impact on the other, going beyond the person receiving the gift?

These questions are reflected in a rising number of opportunities for meaningful gifting: sponsor- and memberships of all well-known NGOs are being advertised just as actively as tree planting, carbon offsetting or simply time to be set aside for activities together.

Meaningful gifting

The current crises – with the war in Ukraine, the rising cost of living and climate change – are teaching us to take a fresh look at our behaviour, explains philosopher and futurologist Hannes Fernow from the Berlin-based think and do tank GIM foresight www.gim-foresight.com – “both on a private level and in society as a whole”.

Studies prove that values such as fairness, sense of responsibility and sustainability – in other words, “meaning” – are especially important to people in times like these, Fernow adds. However, a lack of time or money means that it is not always possible to live according to these values in our everyday lives. Or our behaviour just isn’t consistent enough. Hannes Fernow: “At the same time, gifting is an exceptional circumstance and I am better able to fulfil the needs and values that are becoming ever more relevant.”

Substance instead of content

Fernow also recognizes a long-term trend “where post-material values will grow more important over time in affluent societies”. He continues: “Climate change will not be disappearing either – instead, it is going to intensify and therefore maintain the critical scrutiny of egoistic, excessively materialistic behaviour.” Even though many people need to gain a more material perspective in their day-to-day lives, it is especially the act of giving that creates an opening here. “It is an opening for ideals that can perhaps be experienced with less intensity in everyday life,” he remarks.

According to Fernow, one certain type of gift has a particularly special meaning: these are gifts that have been made by the giver. They are “actually gifts of time, and are therefore invaluable”. Besides, something material is actually being given, but it is less expensive than if you buy a product. And so self-made gifts are a combination of different values, and – more than anything else – they have a meaning, explains Hannes Fernow.

A meaningful gift for sports

This is a development that the Wings for Life World Run is consciously addressing this year: the concept of meaningful gifting fits perfectly together with the concept of meaningful running. Vouchers for the next run can be purchased as gifts – in specially designed, stylish packaging. Simply take a look, download and add that personal final touch. It is a personal and truly meaningful gift: 100% of entry fees and donations go into spinal cord research and help to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

Click here for gift vouchers

The Wings for Life World Run on May 7th, 2023 is a very special anniversary. It will celebrate the 10th time when people come together to run for those who can’t. A very special run. A very special gift. Merry Christmas!