Giving meaningful Christmas presents

Giving the right gift is about more than simply looking in a store for something which friends or family might like. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Giving the right gift is about more than simply looking in a store for something which friends or family might like. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

SINGAPORE, Dec 18 — During the festive season, many people spend plenty of time trying — and struggling — to find presents that will make friends or family happy.

Giving the right gift is about more than simply looking in a store for something which friends or family might like. Rather than just selecting things, giving gifts such as experiences or a donation to a favourite cause can be much more meaningful.

As Live Science contributor Stephanie Pappas explained, the most important thing in giving gifts is that it shows you really know the person well and really care about them. Giving a meaningful gift specifically for an individual then means that you would not get the same gift for two of your friends.

Giving practical gifts is also more important than many people expect. Research led by Yale University professor Nathan Novemsky found that the trade-offs gift givers make between desirability and feasibility are not in line with what gift receivers actually want. Whereas givers prefer giving gifts that they see as highly desirable, receivers prefer gifts that are practical. Selecting gifts based on what people will find useful, then, is likely to cause greater happiness than giving something that seems desirable yet is actually impractical.