The Science of Gift-Giving: How to Choose the Perfect Present

The Science of Gift-Giving: How to Choose the Perfect Present

Everyone prefers to give perfect gifts. Science, however, discloses what the giver of a gift and a recipient imagine is perfect often doesn't match. The key to successful present giving is to think like prospective recipients. Here's how to do just that. First, though, you will benefit from recognizing where you've been going wrong.


You want to wow 

The latest research suggests gift givers consider how to delight and generate a big response when they hand over presents. They wish to see receiver's faces light up with amazement.

What's wrong with wanting to create excitement and joy? Nothing unless you consider the long-term pleasure the gift engenders. When you take into account how much usage the receiver of your present will draw from it, you may determine it's not so great.



How long will enjoyment continue after someone unwraps the present you offer? A day? Maybe only an hour? The musical tie, or wacky and uncomfortable slippers you give someone won't make them happy for more than a few moments. Think whether a gift will be useful long-term. Will it enhance the receiver's life? Maybe it will continue to satisfy because it's beautiful?


You think a socially responsible present will be appreciated

Research shows no one wants a certificate specifying the cash that would have been spent on a usable present has been donated to a charity on their behalf. They want a usable gift.



People get a buzz when they decide to give to charity rather than having someone do so for them. The joy of giving doesn't flow when the choice is taken out of their hands. Therefore, it's better to leave charitable giving to your friends and family and give them a different gift.


You always give a material gift

Material gifts--touchable things--are excellent if you figure out what someone wants. If you don't have a clue, though, you might still buy a physical gift and hope it's appreciated. Maybe you'll buy something you want to receive. Just because you love coasters with pictures of kittens on them or glow-in-the-dark office gadgets doesn't mean other people do too, however.



When you don't have a clear idea what to buy, give an experience rather than a touchable present. A ticket to watch a band or spa day, a vacation, a fun day at a theme park, a visit to the zoo, a balloon ride or a trip to a vineyard complete with wine-tasting might go down well.

Other ideas include giving your time and energy. Spring clean someone's home or babysit their kids so they can go on a date night, for instance.

If you want to choose a perfect gift and do more than raise a temporary smile, imagine you live the life of the beneficiary. Consider the gifts you would find most valuable if you were them and you will achieve your aim.



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