Thoughtful, Pricey Gifts Are a Waste of Time
For recipients, it just doesn't matter, say researchers
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2011 11:39 AM CST
Go right ahead and skip Tiffany's.   (?sunshinecity)

(Newser) – Are you the kind of person who spends hours fretting over the perfect holiday gift? Or who tries to impress by spending big? Don't bother, because it's not helping your cause, writes John Tierney in the New York Times. In fact, price matters a lot more to the giver than to the recipient—and gift-getters would rather have money or something they put on a wish list than a surprise present, according to research by Stanford University psychologists. (Surprised? What do you think a married couple would rate more favorably: cash, the sheets they registered for, or those ridiculously expensive crystal candlesticks...)

The problem, say the researchers, is that we tend to have an "egocentric bias" when giving, and focus on the experience we had while buying the gift. But people receiving the present don't know what we went through or what alternative presents we didn't buy. Of course, there is another aspect to gift giving, besides how the recipient feels—being generous can make you happy. "If you don’t feel good unless you find something special and extravagant, then go right on shopping," says Tierney. "But if you would just as soon skip that experience, you can now do so without feeling guilty."

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
BoRainier
Dec 29, 2011 1:46 PM CST
For the las 3 years I have been giving gifts that I made myself and they are practical and useful, this year took the time to select a picture of my friend and frame it with a collage of his favorite places and brands, he was impressed and happy, cost only $12.00 and it was meaningful.
fractal
Dec 21, 2011 4:20 PM CST
I always give functional gifts---never, ever a knick-knack. I usually will buy what is on someones list, and often just upgrade the quality. Then I give someone close to them the receipt in case they want to exchange... Or I will do preliminary online shopping for them, and show them the alternatives; people really appreciate someone else doing the leg work, and then giving them the final choice. I bought my daughter a persian area rug for her birthday; had her scan ebay with me to find out what she liked, then I went back and narrowed down search to 15 rugs. She loved the rug she finally picked, and I felt assured we got a good deal and good quality.
SPHeroid
Dec 20, 2011 6:13 PM CST
I contend that the best gifts that one adult can give another is their time..... Spring for dinner or lunch, pick up the happy hour tab; one of the best is a baseball game..... The conversation may be trivial, but the memories will last for two life-times.... I regret that I failed to realizes this earlier in life and now those opportunities are lost forever....