Normalize the boring, useful gift

‘Tis the season for receiving a bunch of crap you don’t want or need.

My big takeaway from “Give gifts that people want” was that most good gifts are boring, and most “exciting” gifts are terrible.

A gift card is a great gift. Cash is a fantastic gift. Asking someone what they want and then getting that is always a winner.

But that thing you’re sure they’ll love even though they’ve never mentioned it before? Almost always a terrible gift. That gift is optimizing for the moment of opening, because it’s fun to see someone be surprised and delighted. Don’t do that. That’s a selfish gift, and they’re faking that reaction anyway.

The most common failure mode goes like this: “Sarah loves cooking (or whatever), and this is a neat cooking gadget, so she’ll love it!” But if she loves cooking, she already either has that gadget or has decided she doesn’t want it.

It’s the thought that counts and all, but wouldn’t you prefer to gift something they won’t shove in a drawer and never touch again?

Boring gifts are good gifts. Don’t optimize for the moment of opening. Optimize for the weeks after.

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