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Are you a Bad Gifter? Every holiday season, you scour the stores and outspend your budget, hoping to surprise and delight those you love with thoughtful holiday gifts. And every year, your gifts go over like a 200-pound bag of coal. Well, this year will be different. Understanding the psychology behind gifting will help you change your ways, think like a Good Gifter, and choose the right gifts for everyone on your list.
Gift givers and gift receivers communicate on different wavelengths, which makes good gifting a bit of a dance. Taking the issues and solutions below to heart can help you avoid hurt feelings and keep the holidays happy:
A 2016 study in Current Directions in Psychological Science found that gift givers and receivers are often focused on different aspects of gifting. When choosing, givers tend to think about the surprise and excitement of the gift exchange. Receivers, on the other hand, think about owning and enjoying the gift itself.1 This is why unexpected gifts often get returned or go unused.
Good Gifter Solution: Ask for a wish list. Requesting holiday gift ideas isn’t rude and doesn’t spoil the joy. Quite the opposite. The best gifts are those you truly want.
Here’s another big disconnect between gift givers and gift receivers. Researchers at Oxford University uncovered that gift givers mistakenly focus on how desirable an item is in terms of features, quality, and price. However, gift receivers actually evaluate the gift based on its feasibility. In other words, whether the receiver finds your holiday gifts practical is what counts.2
Good Gifter Solution: Forget about sensational, conversation-worthy gifts. Giving practical gifts people need is the way to go.
Getting carried away by the holiday spirit can make some people impose their own values, style, and other personal choices when choosing gifts. But your tomboy cousin won’t wear stilettos, no matter how much better they look on her than combat boots, and she might even resent you for the gift. On a similar note, trying to come up with the best holiday gift ideas can actually intensify rivalries. Trying to outdo others will only lead to wasteful spending and bad gift ideas.
Good Gifter Solution: Give useful holiday gifts that help loved ones live better.
Becoming a Good Gifter doesn't take a holiday miracle, but it does require a shift in mindset when shopping for holiday gifts. Remembering the unique person you're buying for, choosing practical and useful gifts, and keeping your ego in check are just a few insights that will help you find the perfect holiday gift ideas for everyone this year.