Now, I love Christmas, but gifting presents is really a terrible idea. It creates huge amounts of waste. Recipients rarely place as much value on a gift as the person giving it. If they did value the item, they would probably go out and buy it for themselves. Even children would often use the money in different ways, if given the choice.
And gift buying can be such a difficult thing to do. Research by Jeff Galak in Psychology Today suggests that the most difficult gifting purchase is when a man needs to buy something for a woman. This might explain why women often end up with something that is less than useful.
As gifters, we tend to want to give something unique and different that we hope the recipient will love. Maybe we feel that giving something edgy and different will help show us in that light. Maybe we want to show how much we care about the recipient. Or possibly we just want to show how well off we are by handing over an expensive item.
But the truth is, recipients just tend to want something that they will like. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated, new or different. Research showcased by The Atlantic found that when given a choice between receiving something unique but relatively hard to access, or something relatively mundane and easy to get hold of, recipients tend to prefer the easy, boring present. This flies in the face of the giver wanting to choose something that is desirable, but shows how the recipient prefers the functional benefits of a gift every time. We are creatures of habit after all.
The problem is that humans are generally terrible at guessing what other people want. Even when buying for those we should know well, we still waste millions on unwanted presents each year. We try too hard and spend too much finding something exciting.
So how can we give better presents and give gifts that people will actually want?
Friends, fret no more. There is a simple solution.
Ask them what they would like.
P.S. I’d like some socks, thanks.
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