Dos and don’ts of gift-giv­ing

There’s plenty to be aware of this Chrissy

The Observer - - NEWS -

WITH Christ­mas around the cor­ner, we need to talk about the del­i­cate art of gift-giv­ing.

The pol­i­tics here are end­less. Each party needs to be vaguely matched in their mu­tual ex­change.

You need to con­vey thought and sen­ti­ment with­out look­ing like a show-off or a cheap­skate.

And let’s not even get started on the tur­moil of the One-Sided Gift Ex­change.

If the whole gift­ing process makes you a bit ner­vous, you’re in luck.

Re­search pub­lished by Carnegie Mel­lon’s Tep­per School of Business and In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity’s Kel­ley School of Business has an­a­lysed the big dos and don’ts of gift-giv­ing.

The study ex­am­ines the awk­ward moment when you give some­thing you think is ex­cel­lent, and the re­cip­i­ent’s re­sponse is ... to­tally an­ti­cli­mac­tic.

It said when you give a gift, you need to think less about the person’s ini­tial re­ac­tion, and more about how much use they will ac­tu­ally get from it over time.

“Givers pri­mar­ily fo­cus on the moment of the ex­change,” write re­searchers Jeff Galak, Ju­lian Givi and Elanor F. Wil­liams.

“Re­cip­i­ents in­stead mostly fo­cus on how valu­able a gift will be through­out their own­er­ship of it. Givers and re­ceivers have dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on what makes a gift ‘valu­able.’”

In other words, ‘in-joke’ presents or sexy-but-im­prac­ti­cal gifts are a big no-no.

Bear in mind that you’re tak­ing a big­ger gam­ble with phys­i­cal gifts. Un­less the re­cip­i­ent has specif­i­cally asked for it, you may end up dis­ap­point­ing them.

Re­cip­i­ents are also less likely to en­joy un­re­quested gifts (stick to The List!), any­thing unique but im­prac­ti­cal, or so­cially re­spon­si­ble.

With all this in mind, what the hell do we get our loved ones this Christ­mas?

The study found that re­cip­i­ents favour gifts that are ex­pe­ri­ences over ma­te­rial gifts.

“Ex­pe­ri­ences are usu­ally con­sumed af­ter an ex­change, whereas ma­te­rial gifts are fre­quently ready for use as soon as they are opened,” the authors ex­plain.

“Fur­ther, ma­te­rial gifts are more likely to be some­thing that can be given to and opened by the re­cip­i­ent.

“To that end, givers are likely to favour ma­te­rial gifts be­cause of their im­me­di­ate util­ity.

“In con­trast, ex­pe­ri­en­tial gifts, though ac­tu­ally pre­ferred by re­cip­i­ents, are avoided by givers as they seem less likely to elicit a strong pos­i­tive re­sponse at the moment of ex­change.”

You may be bet­ter off treat­ing your mate to a nice din­ner out or a spa treat­ment than that TV box set they’ve al­ready tor­rented il­le­gally and watched any­way.

Al­ter­na­tively, just opt for the lazy-but-con­ve­nient “cash with class” – a gift card.

It might feel mean­ing­less, but it could spare you a whole lot of pas­siveag­gres­sive at­ti­tude.


CHRIST­MAS CHEER: Re­search re­veals the dos and don’ts of gift-giv­ing.

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