When purchasing a gift, do you buy from a list or do you really think about who the gift is for? Maybe you give a thoughtful gift that may not have been on the "wish list". Purchasing a gift from a registry or a list is easy. It's like a list we keep at work to track our tasks and the entire reason behind it is so we don't have to think. Scientific American notes that a thoughtful gift means so much more than a gift off the list.
Let's do a thought activity. Think of a time where you received a gift you loved.
Can you envision that gift? I'm going to venture out and say it was probably a combination of a gift you wanted (maybe from a list) but also thoughtful and convenient. So what about the gifts that you didn't want and weren't thoughtful. You probably didn't like those as much.
So as a gift giver, it's important to think about who will be receiving your gift. Put yourself in their shoes, "What will it actually mean to the recipient?" (Maria Konnikova, The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving and Generosity, Scientific American, 01-04-2012) In most cases, gift givers tend to think more highly of their gift than the receiver, but when the gift is personal AND something that they want, the gift is received very highly.
Much like we discussed above, personal and wanted gifts are your best bet. They will have the highest impact and the largest gain. Now, why do humans enjoy giving gifts so much? What do we gain from this experience?
Whenever you present someone with a gift, there is some risk involved, right. You might feel nervous about what their reaction will be. Will they love my gift? We feel this way because a gift can change the relationship we have with the receiver. Well received gifts will enhance our relationship and a poorly received gift could harm it. No wonder we always feel so nervous! There is a lot at stake.