This article on gift giving was eye opening and it changed how I think about gifts. But it’s also long, so here are my takeaways from it:
- The vast majority of gifts are a waste of money, as predicted by Sturgeon’s law. But the receivers are so experienced at faking excitement that the givers never realize how much their gifts suck.
- Givers are too focused on the moment of opening. They like to give wow-factor gifts that go straight in the drawer instead of the boring but useful things that people want.
- We love to receive “experiences” (like a night out or tickets to something) but we hate to give them, because the moment of opening is lame and anti-climactic.
- Givers care too much about the price tag. They don’t want to seem cheap. But receivers don’t care how much it costs as long as it’s useful.
- Cash is actually a solid gift for most people (unless it’s a situation where cash is inappropriate, like your grandma’s birthday).
- If you don’t know the person really well, then ask them what they want. You’ll lose the surprising wow-factor but you stand a chance at getting them something they’d actually use.
- Think selfishly. If you don’t know what they want, think about what you want and give them that. Focus on the things that are similar about the two of you.