Nav­i­gat­ing the gift-giv­ing mine­field

Sunday Star-Times - - News - Paul Mitchell

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.’’

WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Mother and daugh­ter Bet Chad­field-James and Kayla Chad­field out Christmas shop­ping.

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