Expensive vs. Thoughtful Gifts

Often during the holiday season, we tend to overthink the kinds of gifts our friends and family would most want.

One of the most pressing questions is how much to spend. We wonder if we should spend a lot of money to show how important our loved ones are to us, or if we should save our money and give something thoughtful and personal. Spending more doesn’t necessarily mean that the gift will mean a lot, but we always feel the need to impress people with a wonderful and unique present.

When we’re picking out the perfect gift, sometimes we tend to look for big, extravagant gifts for a memorable and dramatic moment of exchange. According to an article in the New York Times, that’s not exactly the best thing to do. Psychologists say that loved ones who are receiving the gift aren’t necessarily seeking a dramatic gift-opening; instead, most people will appreciate a gift that will be useful to them for a long time.

Sometimes, this means that we just have to bite the bullet and ask what exactly it is they want. This is something that we avoid because we want the gift to be a big surprise. Try simply asking for a list of gifts that they most want, then just pick one thing to give. It will still be a surprise!

Social expectations in gift giving can still hinder us, even if we do pick something that means a lot to our friends. We might feel that homemade cookies aren’t classy enough, even though your best friend loves almost nothing as much as they love your baking. We might feel pressure to give gifts of charity to organizations because everyone else is. You’ve probably also heard the stereotype that gift cards and cash are the easy way out of giving a gift, so you should avoid those at all costs. According to Harvard Business School, those who receive the gift will honestly appreciate anything well-intended. Researchers there found that searching the ends of the earth for the perfect treasure will often yield the same results as quickly grabbing something from the store that you thought your receiver would enjoy. In the end, those who receive the gift like the fact that they got something from you.

The truth is, if your brother loves Coldstone, it’s perfectly acceptable to give him a Coldstone gift card! If you want to bake cookies for your cousins, go right ahead. If you want to make a wreath for your mom, there’s no reason not to try it.

In the end, what matters most is not whether the gift cost you money or not. The most important thing about giving gifts to loved ones is giving them something that they truly want. Getting a gift, no matter what it is, is pretty heartwarming because it demonstrates someone’s care for you. Don’t let social expectations restrict you – give gifts without fear. Chances are, your loved ones can be pleased without a hefty price tag.