Exchanging gifts an important part of American culture, which is probably why there are countless articles and blogs telling you what to give, what not to give, and discussing the intricate etiquette surrounding giving and receiving gifts. Ultimately, gift giving is an exchange that shows your interest in someone, so it is no wonder that shopping for your significant other's birthday present or a perfect anniversary gift can be a source of stress. However, if you follow these three pieces of advice, you stand a good chance of picking a gift that will not only make your special someone smile, but also increase your overall intimacy.
Give Them Something They Want
Anecdotes, advice, and research all show that people are more satisfied with a gift when it is something they specifically asked for or a gift card that allows them to select their own gift. Knowing this, do you still go rogue with your shopping and buy a gift that is meant to surprise the recipient? You most likely do this because you want to show how well you know them, you think getting something off of their list is too easy or doesn't show dedication, or you enjoy the thrill of shopping.
However, getting your special someone a gift that they have asked for shows that you listen to them, that you value their opinion, and that you trust them to make decisions about their own desires. Gone are the days when a gift was kept as a memento to remember you by. Now, gifts are meant to be more about the recipient than the giver, so go ahead get them something they really want.
Share An Experience With Them
Have you ever selected what you thought was an awesome gift, wrapped it, and given it to a friend, only to get an awkward, mumbled, "thank you," in return? Where is their excitement over your awesome gift? You shouldn't worry. Research shows that the excitement, pleasure, and relationship improvements you hoped to see actually come when the gift is consumed, not when it is given. For this reason, you should consider shifting away from material gifts that the recipient uses alone, and purchase gifts that you can enjoy together.
Although vacations, concerts, and extreme sports make excellent experiential gifts, you can also consider many material gifts as experiential. For instance, if you purchase an espresso machine for your live-in sweetie, you can enjoy the experience of making great coffee together for years.
Don't Over-personalize Your Gift
While you don't want to get a generic gift for someone you care about, you also want to refrain from over-personalizing their gift. In other words, don't worry about finding the perfect gift for them. Researchers have found that when people try to personalize their gifts, they tend to concentrate on static, generic traits of the recipient instead of recognizing their fluid, changing interests. When you over-personalize a gift you run the risk of getting something that they already have or cannot use.
If they have not told you what they want, then consider their minor interests rather than the areas they are known for loving. This way, you are much more likely to give them a useful gift.
You don't nee to worry about getting the perfect gift. Gift giving is an exchange behavior, meant to be reciprocated and repeated many times. This means that you will have many opportunities to strengthen your relationship with the right gift. The good news is that giving a poorly chosen gift is unlikely to negatively affect your relationship, so you can't really go wrong with any well-intentioned gift.
For more gift ideas, check out specialized retailers, like This-N-That Gifts.