Navigating the gift-giving minefield
Christmas comes but once a year and for many Kiwis it’s a struggle to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.
Massey University social psychology professor James Liu said gifts are a key to building relationships – either by giving an expressive gift that shows how well you know them and what you feel about them, or an expensive gift, as a token of how much you’re willing to sacrifice to help them.
‘‘Either approach has its risks. If you misjudge it, both sides feel embarrassed . . . which can create tension, and damage the relationship you’re trying to strengthen,’’ Liu said.
People worry about getting the right gift for family, partners and close friends because they’re the most meaningful bonds – nobody wants to accidentally reveal they don’t know their loved ones as well as they should by getting them the wrong gift, he said.
Trade Me spokeswoman Millie Silvester said the auction website asked 1000 Kiwis about Christmas shopping this week, and 36 per cent found parents or partners were the hardest to buy gifts for.
‘‘Many of us stress about getting it right for those closest to us. Perhaps we know too much about these people, and get ourselves into an emotional tangle.’’
It’s also partly a fear of giving a bad gift without realising it, because 85 per cent of Kiwis admitted they’d pretend to like even the worst Christmas clangers to spare a loved one’s feelings, she said.
To Kayla Chadfield, 17, gifts should be meaningful – a way to show you care, and you paid attention to a loved one’s life.
Her mum, Bex ChadfieldJames, just ticked off the last of her Christmas list on a shopping trip the pair took, but Kayla was struggling to finish her gift shopping.
‘‘We’re a big family. It takes a lot of time and effort to come up with a thoughtful gift for all of them.’’
Liu said Kayla’s was a common Kiwi Christmas struggle. We are uncomfortable with unequal exchanges of gifts – so we’re all aiming to put in the same amount of thought and money into out presents.
Liu said in the end, the secret is to not put too much pressure on yourself.
‘‘They know you love them. The gift is just a token of that. If you get it slightly wrong on Christmas, there are 364 other days that year to make it up to them.’’
Mother and daughter Bet Chadfield-James and Kayla Chadfield out Christmas shopping.