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  • What's the worst holiday gift

  • you've ever received?

  • For me, it's easy.

  • My mom used to consider Chanukah

  • a belated back-to-school holiday.

  • We would get binders, pens, staplers.

  • Once my mom wrapped this huge mystery present

  • that my sister thought was a dollhouse.

  • But it wasn't a dollhouse.

  • It was a trash can.

  • Most of us are actually terrible at giving gifts.

  • About $70 billion worth of presents

  • are returned every year in the U.S.

  • So how do we get... less terrible?

  • Here are 3 ways to improve your gift-giving game

  • around the holidays.

  • 1. Stop trying to make your gift so dame delightful

  • Research has shown that givers are obsessed

  • with the moment of unwrapping a gift

  • even more than the gift itself.

  • We envision the look of delirious happiness

  • and the ecstatic exclamations.

  • Like, WOW!

  • Oh my gosh!

  • You really know me!

  • Ironically, givers are selfish.

  • We want something from giving:

  • those looks of delight. Those exclamations.

  • This is why items like hyper-specific kitchen gadgets

  • and fancy vintage clocks

  • all seem like fantastic gifts.

  • But it turns out, recipients often want things

  • that are far more practical -- things they can actually use.

  • In one study, researchers asked givers and recipients

  • to rate gifts along two metrics:

  • Desirability, like a fancy but complicated coffee maker,

  • and feasibility, like a coffee maker you can

  • actually use without studying the instructions.

  • They found that givers reliably chose the desirable gifts.

  • But recipients preferred feasibility.

  • So what's the most practical gift you can give

  • that people might actually be grateful for?

  • 2. When in doubt, give cash.

  • When economists study gift giving, they're very concerned with one thing: waste.

  • Let's “hypotheticallysay that my grandmother

  • buys me a sweater that I hate, and your grandmother

  • also buys you sweater that you hate.

  • (Sorry, grandmothers!)

  • Before long, we're talking about billions of dollars in waste in the economy.

  • Economists call it "deadweight loss"

  • and they estimate that up to 30% of the value

  • of all gifts is wasted.

  • That means -- the company wasted time making the gift,

  • the giver wasted time buying it,

  • and the recipients wasted time returning it.

  • There's a way to fix this.

  • There is a very specific gift that is always worth the exact same

  • to both giver and receiver.

  • It's called cash.

  • The good thing about cash is that the receiver

  • can always make use of 100 percent of its value.

  • The bad thing about cold, hard cash is that... it's cold.

  • It doesn't say anything except, "Here's some money."

  • So this is a conundrum.

  • How do we design a gift-giving formula that is as efficient as cash

  • and as sentimental as you want to be?

  • 3. Just give people what they ask for.

  • A good way to get what you want

  • is--shocker!--to tell people what you want.

  • A 2011 study looked at Amazon wish lists

  • to determine if people were more appreciative

  • of gifts from the list versus gifts that were total surprises.

  • It turned out that people got gifts that weren't on their list,

  • they actually saw them as less thoughtful

  • and less personal.

  • Surprise is overrated -- we're happier to get what we ask for.

  • We do everything we can to keep gifts top secret:

  • We wrap them so they don't look like they came from a store.

  • We tear the price tags off.

  • But we are spending money here.

  • If you want to make your gift count,

  • stop obsessing about the moment of unwrapping

  • and surprise.

  • Find out what the people that you love want--

  • and get it for them.

  • This is You Are Here, a show about the science of everyday life.

  • I'm Derek Thompson. Thank you for watching.

What's the worst holiday gift

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Why Is Everyone So Bad At Giving Gifts?

  • 62 5
    Courtney Shih posted on 2020/02/19
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