How do I find my present

How do I find the right gift?

The custom of giving exists in almost all cultures. We strengthen social bonds, show our generosity and prove to one another how important we are to each other. According to their own information, Germans spend an average of just under 300 euros on Christmas gifts. In addition to money and vouchers, the most popular are games, event tickets, clothing, books and jewelry. But every year there are also unwanted presents under the tree. They are then secretly resold, disappear in the junk room or even end up in the garbage. According to a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov, 15 percent of Germans exchange the item, and one in four people who are unhappy with a present simply gives it away. Givers don't find the latter as bad as they feared. But it would be even better if there were no such mistakes in the first place when giving gifts. It works with these five rules.

1. Give something practical

When choosing a gift, we often choose something that makes a real impression. We measure success in giving by how much the recipient shines when unpacking. But for him other values ​​really count.

In a series of eight studies, researchers led by Ernest Baskin from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia examined what kind of gifts gift givers prefer and what is best received by gift recipients. To do this, they divided test subjects into givers and recipients and gave them a choice between two gift options. One was very attractive, but rather impractical, and the other less sensational, but useful - for example a complicated high-gloss coffee machine or a simpler model that works reliably and is easy to use.

As givers, we think above all of the moment of delivery. The recipient, on the other hand, attaches importance to the long-term benefit

Both in various online studies and in field experiments in a shopping center, in front of takeaways and on the beach, it became clear that givers opt for the noble option, while recipients actually prefer the practical variant. On the beach promenade, gift recipients were not only more pleased when a friend gave them an ordinary, light ballpoint pen than a fancy one that was very heavy and not accessible. They then even felt more strongly that they were close to the heart of the giver.

How can that be? When we buy something for others, the object remains abstract to us. We do not imagine what it would be like to use the gift in everyday life. As givers, we think above all of the moment of handover: It should be as spectacular and effective as possible. The recipient, on the other hand, attaches importance to the long-term benefit. The different perspectives often lead to wrong decisions when giving gifts, according to the authors of a survey on the subject published in 2016.

So it helps to empathize with the recipient. A funny gift that makes the other person laugh at first, but is then practically useless, turns out to be a mistake. What makes the recipient happy for a long time makes them happier on balance. It's okay to think practically: A pretty potted plant is more enjoyable in the long term than a fresh bouquet that has wilted after a week.