How Americans Are Rethinking Prosperity

Many are shifting their focus to “life satisfaction” and away from consumption.

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While some gift-givers choose donations in lieu of presents, others purchase experiential gifts, an option that has grown increasingly popular over the past few holiday seasons. For instance, taking a family member out for lunch, treating a friend to a movie, or giving tickets to a concert or sporting event. "People are looking at more time-based gifts and looking at making gifts, which from a time standpoint is one of the best gifts that someone can give," says Willis. "That shows someone you care about them tremendously."

Andreani recalls getting a "memory book" from her mother, which chronicled her life from her mother's point of view, including birth, ballet recitals, and other milestones, mixing text and images in a print-on-demand book. "That was the most meaningful gift I've ever received," she says.

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Corrected on 11/23/2011: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the company Prosper, Inc.