The Psychology of Gifting: The Science BehindMeaningful Presents
From birthdays to Christmas to Thanksgiving, there are now multiple opportunities throughout the year to give gifts to our loved ones. With the average person spending around $830 on Christmas gifts alone, gift giving is clearly an activity people are willing to spend high amounts of their hard-earned money on.
But gift giving is more than just a simple act of generosity as there are significant psychological benefits that occur as a result of gift giving. A sense of satisfaction and reducing any guilt you may be feeling are a snapshot of the emotional benefits gift giving can provide, and are simply heightened when you present someone with a meaningful, thoughtful gift.
But giving wonderful gifts is easier said than done and often requires a lot of thought and intuition toward the person you’re actually buying for. If you love buying gifts for others but feel like you always miss the mark, here are some scientifically-proven tips to ensure you buy a truly meaningful gift every time!
Give experiences instead of physical objects
Sometimes, people are just notoriously hard to buy for. Whether it’s because they already own everything they’d ever need or simply don’t have many hobbies or interests, purchasing a physical item for someone can be extremely difficult. This can often lead people to go down the route of a dull gift card which lacks both thought and imagination.
Opting for giving an experience instead of a material item is a great way to avoid this problem. Giving options such as concert/game tickets, excursion coupons or even an entire weekend away will make the receiver feel more connected and grateful towards you. It will also induce feelings of excitement as, if they have to wait a while to actually go on their experience, they have time to look forward to it and experience more long-term excitement than they’d typically have when receiving a material item.
Know the person
Perhaps the most important part of giving any gift, knowing the receiver really well is guaranteed to make your job easier. In order to give a meaningful gift, you have to tailor the gift to the likes and interests of the person you’re buying for. Getting a generic gift is fine, but it won’t ‘wow’ the receiver as much as a personal, thoughtful gift will.
It’s also crucial to consider how practical your choice of gift will be. Often, we get too carried away with buying what we think the person will like without actually considering whether they’d genuinely use it. Take into account the general lifestyle of the receiver in addition to their interests and put practicality at the top of the list.
This is especially important when it comes to buying gifts for children too. For example, even if you know the child loves large jigsaw puzzles if their parents don’t have a huge amount of space within their home it will be pointless buying them a huge puzzle as they simply won’t have enough space to do it. If you’re currently in the process of buying a gift for a child and are struggling, take a look at Makaboo.com for inspiration spanning a wide variety of ages.
Give handmade gifts
One of the easiest and most effective methods of showing you’ve really put some thought into a gift is to make it yourself! Whether it’s homemade cookies or a scarf you’ve knitted, handmade items instantly demonstrate that you’ve put time and effort into your gift.
But the principles of practicality and what the receiver likes still stand with handmade gifts, and it’s important not to get too carried away. If you know the receiver likes clothing but lives in a hot climate, knitting a scarf or jumper for them will likely be pointless as, even though they may love it, it’s unlikely they’ll have much opportunity to wear it.
Ask them what they want
Whilst this may seem obvious, many people simply avoid asking the receiver what they actually want to keep the element of surprise. Whilst this may work if you know the person really well, if you’ve newly become friends with someone it’s always best to directly ask if they have something in mind that they want to avoid the risk of buying something that isn’t received particularly well.
Gift giving is pleasurable for both the giver and receiver with an array of psychological benefits. These benefits are heightened when gifts are thoughtful and meaningful so, if you use the above tips the next time you go gift shopping, you’re almost guaranteed to feel more satisfied than ever before!
Corey Miller works in the giftware industry and did a stint as a personal shopper early on in his career. When time allows he shares industry insights as well as top tips for consumers who are gift shopping and need inspiration.