Two persons exchanging gifts

21 Things You Didn't Know About Gift-Giving

We are fully into the gift-giving season  with all the ups and downs that come with it.  

Are you a perfect gift giver who knows exactly what to get everyone on your list? Or are you the “what do you want me to get you this year” gift buyer (like me) who wants to maximize the utility of the gift, even if it comes at the cost of spontaneity and surprise?  

Well, whoever you are, and at the risk of sounding like a scrooge, here are a few things you may not know about gift-giving.

1. Received gifts are valued at 10-33% less than their actual cost. 


2. Gift givers often focus on the moment of exchange when purchasing gifts (i.e. the short-term impact of giving). 


3. Gift receivers are more focused on the lifetime ownership of a gift (i.e. how much benefit will this gift provide me over the long-term). 


4. Gift givers believe the surprise/wow factor matters a lot to the value of the gift. 


5. Gift receivers care less about the surprise factor than the giver. 


6. Gift givers place more value on the presentation of the gift than the receiver (wrapping paper, bows, etc.). 


7. Receiving a gift can create an obligation to reciprocate. 


8. Giving/receiving a thoughtless gift can hurt a relationship. 


9. A gift’s cost does not predict the receiver’s happiness as much as the giver thinks. 


10. Recipients do not value socially conscious gifts as much as the givers hope (ex. donations made in your name, etc.) 


11. Asking and giving someone what they want will not devalue the gift. 


Three women exchanging gifts

12. Gift receivers can place more perceived value in gifts they have requested. 


13. Gift givers assume that “both solicited and unsolicited gifts will be equally appreciated”. 


14. Americans will spend, on average, over $900 on Christmas in 2022. 


15. Gift-giving obligations can come at the cost of other family financial obligations. 


16. Gift receivers value experiential gifts more than physical gifts of the same dollar value. 


17. Gift givers prefer to give physical gifts. 


18. Gift givers assume giving higher priced gifts will be appreciated more. 


19. Gift receivers can place more value in sentimental gifts (pictures, tokens of your relationship, etc.) than more expensive gifts. 


20. Gift givers are risk-averse when giving gifts (i.e., they don’t want to take a chance that a gift given won’t be appreciated). 


21. Gifts given at a random time (not a holiday or birthday) are valued more than gifts given on typical gift-giving days.