We all know that gift-giving is a science, but what exactly does that mean? It means learning what people like and dislike. The more information you have about the person you are buying for, the better chance of success you have. This article will help to teach you how to give gifts so they are not only appreciated but remembered!
On average, people in the UK spend around £500 on gifts. This is about $650 in America. Giving a gift makes you happy and can help to strengthen relationships. But if you give something that someone does not like, they might not be happy or feel closer to you.
Choosing the wrong gift can be damaging for relationships, according to Elizabeth Dunn of The University of British Columbia in Canada. Her research has shown that undesirable gifts can sometimes have a negative effect on how a person perceives future relationship potential with the gift giver.
“The wrong gifts can leave bad impressions,” Dunn says, “but there are still plenty of great or neutral ones that won’t.”
Price doesn’t equal success
Giving a thoughtful gift does not have to be expensive.
Research has shown that the more you spend on someone’s gift, the higher expectations are on their level of appreciation. But while givers associate spending more money with thoughtfulness, receivers do not always feel that your generous gesture is enough of an improvement over anything less than a certain amount.
This means that a gift of any size or price can result in the same level of appreciation from your receiver if you show them some thoughtfulness and creativity when choosing their present.
“There is evidence that recipients are not sensitive to the cost of a gift when they determine how much they’ll enjoy it,” said Jeff Galak, an associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh.
Galak, who studies consumer behaviour and decision making, acknowledges that tradition or expectations may require you to hit a certain price threshold in order for the gift giver to feel satisfied with their purchase. But once they do so what matters most is not how much something costs but instead it’s just about giving them an item regardless if it’s more valuable than another. “So the price of a gift is not something that determines how much they like it.”
This is an indication that the gift, not its price tag or value, can determine how well people like you.
This study suggests we should stop focusing so much on what to buy and instead focus on who it’s for because different gifts will produce a variety of emotional responses from recipients even if they cost about the same amount.
Givers give gifts to the people they love. They want to see the person smile when they get it. But what recipients care about is if they are happy with their gift over a long time period.
However, this doesn’t mean you should just grab anything on sale and call it a day. It’s important to consider the person you are buying for when making your purchase.
In other words, a movie-streaming service subscription might not be exciting to open on Christmas morning for the gift giver, however, for the movie loving recipient who isn’t a fan of going to the cinema, 12 months of Netflix or Prime video will be a gift they enjoy every day. if you’re lucky, they might even invite you round to watch with them
Another example is a subscription to their favourite magazine or an annual massage package – both gifts always appreciated by recipients who enjoy spending time catching up with magazines and/or getting regular massages themselves. A personal trainer’s gift certificate can also be a gift they’ll use to enjoy the company of someone else when putting in their workouts.
Ultimately, remember the joy of seeing someone opening the gift will never last as long as the enjoyment they will get from that gift so focus less on the big ‘wow’ and more on what the gift will mean to them in the long term.
Your gift doesn’t have to be unique
We all strive to give our recipients a gift they would never have thought of, however, a gift does not have to be unique in order to show love for someone and the best gifts can often come from a little creativity with what you already know they’ll enjoy.
Galak also suggests not to obsess over finding the most unique gift. Sometimes it’s better to give a coveted item, rather than one that might be more off-the-wall but not as wanted.
“The person opening the gift might be more excited about getting something they actually want and it will give them a feeling of belonging,” said Galak. “Buy what you know.”
We usually focus on a person’s unique traits when we are shopping for them. But this can make it difficult to buy the right gift. If we are specific, then it may be too easy to not notice other things that they might want or need. It can also be hard to find gifts for people who are different from each other if we are specific.
“Galak noted that people may give bad gifts because they simply don’t have a clue what the recipients might like, so they buy wares from multiple stores in an attempt to get at least one hit. But those really good ideas can be overlooked — and very under-appreciated– if you are too busy looking for things from different stores.”
Buy based on shared interests
Psychology professor Dunn argues that a thoughtful gift can be given by determining what you have in common with the recipient and picking an item from there.
When you’re shopping for yourself, it’s all about what makes YOU happy. If you have a shared interest with someone and want to get them something they’ll like too – then pick the gift that would make YOU happy.
Think about something you share in common with the person you are buying for. Then, buy them something they can experience. For example, a cooking class or tickets to a concert.
Research has shown that experiential gifts can bring people closer even when they don’t do the gift together.
“If you know that someone has a love for gardening, but the only gift you have is an inspirational book about life as a gardener, maybe rethink your strategy and get them something they can use in their garden. A trowel, gardening experience or some seeds are better than just more reading material.”
If all else fails, ask them!
Asking people what they want for a gift isn’t seen as a good idea; gifts are meant to be thoughtful, if you just ask what they want and buy it, it shows a lack of creativity or thought.
However, if you’re running out of ideas and are struggling to come up with something they will like, it might be worth asking them what they want! Asking is a good idea as long as you don’t ask for the specific gift; just say “I’d love some input on gifts you might like.”
“People want to surprise and delight the recipient, but according to Dunn, ‘The better gift will be whatever it is they say they want.’ ” Galak agrees that the simplest way to do this is asking them directly, but most people don’t like when others ask for their preferences out of fear that it means they won’t enjoy the present.
Simple and thoughtful gifts are the best
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be too worried about giving a bad gift. You’re not going to give someone a terrible gift all the time, so don’t worry about it!
People love getting gifts, and you can tell they are appreciative when someone takes the time to find out what those people like. But even if your gift isn’t as great as it could have been, that person will probably still appreciate how thoughtful of a gesture it was. And whenever someone is given bad or inappropriate things from their friends and family members (which happens more often than not), all they need to do is think about why this particular thing might be important enough for them — good or bad– in order to feel appreciated. It’s not about what the gift is, but that someone thought of them.
Plus, a bad gift will always be funny to talk about later on!