WHY GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING ARE THE BEST
WITH Christmas on the horizon, many of us will be spending time and money over the coming weeks buying gifts for our friends and loved ones.
There are lots of reasons why we give gifts, not least because it is a way of strengthening our bonds with others.
In giving gifts we can communicate an awful lot: how we feel about a person; how well we know them, and what they mean to us.
In giving a gift we are expressing how we perceive that relationship and hoping that the receiver understands the message we are trying to convey.
When we get it right, this can increase our sense of connection to others and improve our relationships.
A look at the research on the psychology of gift giving tells us one thing for sure: giving and receiving gifts makes people happy.
Givers get an increased sense of satisfaction, purpose and feel more positive about their own lives, while receivers also get a boost to their wellbeing.
Perhaps partly due to the moodlifting endorphins that giving and receiving gifts releases in our brains, several studies have found that gift giving is contagious.
Receivers of gifts are more likely to go on to give gifts themselves, as are people who witness gift giving in action.
Here are my tips for enhancing the psychological benefits of giving and receiving gifts this Christmas.
■ Give experiences rather than objects – Purchasing an experience gives you the opportunity to share your understanding of the other person’s likes, interests and what makes them happy.
Lasting memories of an enjoyable experience can be much more meaningful than a material object that sits gathering dust on the shelf once the novelty has worn off.
■ Give gifts that save time – This can be particularly meaningful for people who have very busy lifestyles. Studies have shown that purchases that save people time, such as gadgets or services, can have the greatest impact on wellbeing.
■ Pay attention to the detail – Taking the time to choose wrapping paper, a card and envelope that also conveys your connection to the person will enhance the moodboosting effect of your gift.
Writing a personalised message referencing shared memories, personal ties or the reasons behind your gift give an added personal touch.
Dr Ellie Milby is a counselling psychologist
Giving and receiving gifts makes people happy