1.) Stuff is good. The first thing most of us think of when we think about what to give? Stuff. From flat-screen televisions to clothes to jewelry to the lowly gift card, we tend to associate giving gifts with giving a physical object. But in many cases, more ephemeral gifts can bring more happiness.
Gifts of experiences (like concerts and special meals) are a better bet than material things. Why? Not only do experiences make us happier than stuff, but experiences brings givers and recipients closer together — and come with the added bonus that the giver sometimes gets to tag along…
2.) Uniqueness is key. We have all received “unique” gifts from people who try to get us things we would not otherwise buy for ourselves. Think 19th century folk art, when we really wanted an iPad.
Givers tend to think that the amount of thought they put into a gift signals to recipients their level of investment, which leads them to buy obscure, hard-to-find gifts to prove that they have devoted effort to finding the perfect gift. Research shows, however, that recipients would really just like, well, gifts they like. If they ask for an iPad, guess what they want? An iPad.