It's that time of year again when the normal joy of gift giving can sometimes turn into a super-stressful seasonal chore - 'I have so may gifts to buy! How on earth am I going to get it all done in time?!'
So, why do we put ourselves through all this? What are we trying to say with the presents we give? Simply put, we just want to show our loved ones how much we care about them. Unfortunately, all the best gift-giving intentions in the world do not necessarily lead to good gifts. But never fear, I'm here to help you! Combining my 25 years of experience in gift giving with the latest psychological research, here are my top tips for perfect (panic-free) presents:
1. Think beyond the moment they unwrap it
Just imagine the look on your friend’s face when they open that ridiculous novelty inflatable wizard hat for their cat (seriously, it does exist) It’s going to be hilarious! And maybe it will. But, according to research, this sort of thinking is all but guaranteed to result in a bad gift. Gift givers tend to focus too much on the moment the present is unwrapped. Gift recipients, on the other hand, wish that givers would think more about how the present might actually be used.
2. Know that it is totally fine to give the same present to several people.
When people buy gifts for lots of people at once, they tend to prioritise finding unique gifts for each individual — even when that leads to buying not-quite-right gifts, and even when gift getters don’t know each other and have no way of ever finding out that they each received the same thing. So, if you find a gift that you think loads of your friends will like, feel free to buy in bulk.
3. Give them what they ask for
Remember the childhood excitement of writing your letter to Father Christmas? Remember the joy of finding exactly those gifts waiting under the tree on Christmas morning? Research shows that this feeling holds true for adults as well. Gift recipients rate the gifts from their list as being more thoughtful and appreciated than un-asked-for items. Gift givers, on the other hand, guessed (incorrectly) that their off-list items would be perceived as more thoughtful and, as such, more appreciated.
4. Don’t overdo it
We all enjoy buying extravagant gifts but most people would really just prefer a present that’s simple for them to use. Imagine receiving a gift card for a great restaurant that's an hour away, versus one for a restaurant that's less well regarded but just five minutes away — again, studies show that convenience is of prime important to recipients but most givers don't consider it as a factor. The lesson: Don’t buy people presents that might turn out to be something of a chore.
5. It’s the thought that counts, and you really should be sure to mention the thought.
If you do go off-list, or the recipient claims they 'really don't want anything' (alert- they really DO want a gift), research has shown that when people receive unasked-for gift they're happier with it when they're told that its been thoughtfully picked for them. So even the weirdest gift seems better when you understand that the person was at least trying to be thoughtful!
Most of all enjoy it - gifting shouldn't be a chore and with my helpful hints you can enjoy it.
Best of Luck!