Every year, Ashley Delahunty promises herself that she won’t wait until the last minute to start her Christmas shopping, but every year, she ends up in a mad dash to check off all the names on her list. “I always have great plans about what I want to do for people, but it never comes together because I run out of time,” says Delahunty, 36, of Wellesley, Mass. “So I end up buying exactly what they tell me they want, which is practical but takes the surprise and fun out of it.”
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Even though buying gifts can be as easy as pointing and clicking (more than 122 million Americans are expected to shop online today, Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation), selecting the perfect present isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, research confirms that, in general, Santas we’re not.
A study published this year in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that while gift recipients are happier with gifts they’ve explicitly asked for, givers think that gifts they’ve picked out on their own are seen as more considerate and better appreciated.
What’s more, research led by Mary Steffel, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Florida-Gainesville, suggests that shoppers who are selecting gifts for more than one close friend at a time tend to focus on how the recipients are different, rather than on what they’d like best.
“Ironically, this means the harder shoppers try to be thoughtful, the more likely they are to pass up gifts that would be better liked in favor of unique gifts,” Steffel says.
One way to select better presents is to be aware of what kind of giver you are, she says.
Strange Random Gift Quote:
We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers. – Seneca
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