Gifts with an Impact
Some people consider me a bit of a grinch. I’m generally not a big fan of required gift giving, considering it an inefficient use of money. You may have seen my favorite article on the subject, “The economic argument for never giving another gift.” I quote it a lot. Another good one is “The economist’s guide to giving Christmas presents that people actually want.” They argue that we value things less (20% less!) when we don’t buy them for ourselves. Expected gifts (Christmas, birthday, anniversary) are especially devalued.
How to avoid this trap without looking like a total scrooge?
- Give to people you know well. Daily or weekly contact translates to gifts that are 10% more satisfying.
- Give experiences, not things. Interpersonal relationships and new experiences consistently make people happier than material goods.
- Surprise them. Whether the surprise is in the timing or the present itself, unexpected gifts are the most satisfying.
- Give to those less fortunate. Redistributing wealth—even if it’s just from comfortable adults to broke students—is a particularly good way to make gifts more efficient.