I have seen this scenario: John and Marsha are lovers. John’s birthday is coming up and Marsha, the thoughtful wife that she is, bought him a pair of adjustable dumbbells to help him lose some weight gained from all that video gaming whenever he has free time from his job as an advertiser.
Fast forward two months, the dumbbells are still to be used. John did not even post the gift he received on Facebook.
What went wrong?
Because Marsha got a gift for her husband that she preferred.
Your Preference Do Not Matter
We all had a thought similar to these at least one in our lives:
- “I am going to get mom a new mobile phone on her birthday! This will get her over being a technophobe!”
- “For Valentines day, I will get wifey a heart-shaped waffle maker to get her to start cooking”
- “My son plays too much on the internet… I should get him a that seven volume Harry Potter series to get him to love reading!”
See the pattern? Those were the giver’s preferences, not the receiver’s. Mom does not like smart phones but you gave her one… Wife does not cook, yet you got her a kitchen tool… Son likes to play on the internet yet you got him a set of books.
Well-intentioned, yes, but poorly matched. One thing to remember in gift giving is that your preferences do not matter. Do you think they need this? Does not matter. Do you think it will make them a better person? Does not matter. Do you think it will promote world peace and save the giant panda from extinction? Does. Not. Matter.
What matters in gift giving is the recipient. You should always tailor your gifts to the receiver.
What Should I Give Then?
There was a study that there is a difference between the preferences of the giver and the receiver of gifts. Thus, we should always research about the receiver. What kind of sports do they play? Hobbies? Do they like oranges? Is she allergic to shellfish? Are they a dog lover? Is he a man or is she a woman? (Mind you, men and women generally have very different tastes in gifts.)
Then we get the gift that will make them happy. After all, making the recipient happy is the goal of the gift, not saving panda bears.
If you have no idea what to give and you do not want to directly ask the receiver, you can ask their friends and relatives for some input. Their inputs plus how you know them should give you an idea on what to give them.
So, the next time you choose a gift, think about what the receiver wants, not what you want for them.