In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
Have a stash of gift cards in various denominations, so when you need a last minute gift (the hairdresser, child’s tutor, garage attendant), you’re covered. Gift cards give the recipient control over what they get, and they don’t add to the clutter in your home or theirs.
Have bottles of wine on hand. Consider having tags pre-printed that can be tied around the bottle to eliminate the need to write a card.
Always give gifts with a receipt, so they can be returned.
Avoid gifts that require effort or long-term care on the recipient’s part. This includes pets, plants, or anything alive.
Unless requested in lieu of a gift, donations to charity are presumptuous on the part of the gift giver. If you want to make a donation, do so, but don’t make it someone’s gift.
Never give a monogrammed gift. Something cheap and functionless doesn’t get better with a monogram, it just makes the recipient feel worse about getting rid of it.