SUCCESSFUL GIFT GIVING
Good gift giving is an art. The perfect present can lift a mood or improve a relationship. It can repair a wrongdoing, or simply remind a loved one that you care.
Psychologists have long been fascinated by the subject of gifting, because it's a window into so many other important human traits: how we see others, how we assign value to things, our decision-making skills and our ability empathize.
Whatever the occasion, gift giving is a social ritual that requires careful thought and consideration. So are there a set of rules to follow? We spoke to some experts to help us craft a simple guide to gifting.
Don't add a small gift to a big gift
Tempted to add a tie to an expensive shirt? Some flowers to go with a bottle of grand cru champagne? Don't. When we receive gifts in a bundle, we tend to unconsciously average out their value, so a small gift tacked onto a big one will hurt the latter's impact.
Gift experiences rather than things
A brand new becomes old fast. But a dream vacation or seeing your favorite artist in concert will give you memories that last forever. "Experiences often have more thought gone into them, and they create more vivid memories. We might remember the tablet that a friend or a loved one has bought us, but not as much as a two-week holiday to Florida -- the memories and the emotional attachment are greater than to a physical object," explained Farrelly.
That, in a nutshell, is why should you consider an experience over a physical object. It's an idea supported by psychologist Thomas Gilovich, whose research shows that money spent on doing provides more enduring happiness than money spent on having.
Think like the receiver
Let's put it very simply: buy things that your receiver would buy for themselves. That might seem obvious, but it happens far less than we'd like. People tend to use gifts as jokes, encouragements to change one's ways, or to signal something about themselves rather than providing utility (or happiness) to the receiver.
The best way to get it right is to simple ask the upfront question, "what would you like?"
According to Waldfogel, "There are now conversations among family members to agree to give gifts that everyone wants, as opposed to [shopping] blindly."
Spend more on others than on yourself
The last rule is a no-brainer: remember the gift of giving. A study finds that spending money on others promotes happiness. The good feelings you may experience from giving someone a gift they love may also last longer than spending money on ourselves
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So while it's important to look after oneself, remember there are benefits to being more generous to those around you.