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Share a new experience this Christmas

I'LL always remember the progressive dinner our son Matt organized for our 25th anniversary.

I'LL always remember the progressive dinner our son Matt organized for our 25th anniversary.

He was away at university, but as a surprise gift he had arranged and paid to have a limousine pick us up from home, take us to one restaurant for an appetizer, another for the main course and a third place for dessert.

We value experiences more than things. And in most cases, unexpected experiences boost the value even higher.

Whether you are doing some last-minute gift shopping or want to add something even more special (and this applies any time of the year), consider giving an unexpected experience - whether something you pay for or something you do.

"The thrill of buying more stuff wears off in short order," says Gregory Karp, author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan. "By contrast, the longevity of a great memory improves over time."

Research shows people are happier spending money on positive life experiences than on things. In financial terms: "Experiences appreciate, assets depreciate."

That special holiday, memorable dinner, mountain hike, moonlight swim, amazing concert, surprise birthday party - those are the experiences we treasure.

So it follows if you can give the gift of an experience, the recipient will value it more than a thing.

If you have the money, you can pay for the experience; if not, you can provide it yourself.

And if you are doing it yourself, take it to the next level. Do something out of character - in a good way.

For example, perhaps being tidy really isn't your thing. So give the gift of tidiness - for a day, for a week. Or both prepare the meal and also clean up afterward. Or set up a keepfit program - and take part in it, too.

"Summer vacations and weekend getaways, concerts, board games, special meals out (not routine ones)" - it's the experiences that will be remembered, says Karp. And if you do give things, make them the sorts of things that provide an ongoing or repeated experience.

Mike Grenby is a columnist and independent personal financial advisor; he'll answer questions in this column as space allows but cannot reply personally - email

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