Ever received a gift that you later tossed into the closet, never to be seen or heard from again? One of the main pitfalls of gift-giving is buying a present for someone that they will have no use for.
However, great gifts can bring people closer and are often hugely appreciated by the receiver. We have all been the impractical gift-giver at some point, so pay attention to the kinds of presents to avoid wrapping up this holiday season.
1. The re-gift
Most people have re-gifted at some point in their lives. Christmas shopping is stressful and time-consuming, so people often re-gift books, DVDs, ornaments and other items they were previously given that they had no use for.
However this takes very little time and doesn’t require any effort or finances, so it could leave the receiver feeling undervalued or hurt. Ask yourself if this gift going to spend another year simply gathering dust on your loved one’s shelf?
Chris, 25, received a re-gift from his brother Mark when they were both teenagers, an untouched CD Mark had received the year before. Chris didn’t enjoy the artist and the album was out of date, but he was mainly hurt by the lack of thought on his brother’s part.
“He just grabbed it and quickly wrapped it,” Chris said. “If he was short on time and money I would rather he just make me a card – I never listened to the CD [again] after the first time.”
The main reason people don’t enjoy re-gifts is because of the lack of thought put into them – family heirlooms and well planned re-gifts can be a huge success if your worry is money.
2. The overly practical gift
If you are buying gifts for someone you live with, and the item would still have been purchased, this isn’t much of a gift. A new microwave, laundry basket, or set of forks could be really useful in your house, but the recipient will probably feel that they were cheated out of a gift, as it doesn’t suit any of their personal interests.
Debbie, 54, was surprised to discover her husband Jeremy had bought her a mop for her birthday during the first year they lived together.
“We needed a mop, but if it had been any other month we would have still bought one,” she said. “I don’t enjoy cleaning and the present wasn’t exciting or fun. I made my feelings clear – he never bought me a gift like that again!”
If your partner asks for a vacuum cleaner, it will make a great gift. But if they don’t, consider their hobbies and interests. What would put a genuine smile on their face?
3. The gift with a point
Gifts come with a message, and normally the message is affection and love. Everyone wants the best for the closest people in their lives, and presents can be a great way to help people grow.
However, sometimes gifts can send a message that is hurtful to the receiver. Often gifts with a point can try to help people self-improve, from treadmills to cookbooks to exercise DVDs. These gifts could leave the receiver feeling offended, as it may seem like you think they are lacking and could do to improve.
“Both of my parents love horses,” Sarah, 34, said. “They both work with them and ride in their free time. I’ve never been a fan of them myself, but my parents always wanted me to work with horses as well. When I was 14, they bought me a book about horses for Christmas – I told them then I had no interest in horses and the gift wasn’t suited to me. Thankfully, they apologized and now they would never try to get me on a horse.”
Even though this present is normally sent with the best intentions, to save trouble, think about areas they are already skilled in, so the present is more useful to the receiver.
4. The ‘you don’t really know them’ gift
If you don’t know much about someone’s interests or passions, it can be hard to think of a gift they will enjoy. People often go for safe options like bath products, candles, and perfumes, which can be risky as people often dislike the scents, or are allergic to the products.
Reece, 22, was gifted a hunting knife from his neighbors when he was ten.
“I thought the gift was really cool, as I didn’t know the neighbors well, and I am still touched they considered me,” Reece said. “I’d never had an interest in hunting before, though, and I cut my finger pretty badly within a few hours of opening the present, so my dad took it away and I haven’t seen it since.”
If you don’t know someone well and you still want to get them something, gift cards are a great option to consider. Although some people think they are impersonal, it gives the individual the freedom to choose something for themselves that they will love.
5. The present with bad intentions
Unlike the gift with a point, this gift is never sent with good intentions. Examples include buying cleaning products for untidy housemates, dandruff shampoo to a sibling who doesn’t wash frequently, or exercise equipment for someone who is very weight conscious.
“I lived with my sister and her boyfriend for a few weeks before Christmas when I first moved to Scotland,” said Natalie, 46. “On Christmas Day her boyfriend gave me a bed and breakfast guide for the city. I was embarrassed in front of my family – I wanted to curl up and disappear!”
People often send hurtful presents if they dislike confrontation and don’t know how to tackle the problem, but they can be very belittling to the receiver. The most respectful way to deal with any problems you have with someone is to talk to them openly, rather than possibly causing any emotional damage.
6. The gift for yourself
Often when you live with someone, gifts are used by everyone in the house. But are you buying the gift for them, or you? People often get excited about gifts they know they can use, so they create reasons why it is useful for everyone.
“Last year my wife bought me a foot massager, which I have used once – and she uses nearly every night,” said Nathan, 34. “I don’t work on my feet, so I didn’t really understand why she bought me it initially. I can see why now.”
This gift is often seen as selfish, as it doesn’t consider the person the gift is actually for and mainly benefits the person who bought it. This present is basically anything that you benefit from more than them – whether it is a car, a bottle of wine or a PS4.
Ask yourself if the present benefits you more than the person you are buying it for. If it does, keep looking until you find something you know that they, specifically, will love.
Featured photo credit: Another Christmas Tree Detail in Shopping/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com