It’s hard to believe but after an entire month of christmas trees in every window, christmas carols choking up my Spotify song list and even the Prime Minister begging us to buy, Buy, BUY – it’s over. Santa has left the building.
And yet, in the background, waiting to be put away or thrown away is that pile of Christmas gifts that had such potential before being unwrapped. What do you do with the yodelling pickle that Uncle Mike thought was the perfect gift? Or that Hello Kitty handbag shipped DHL express just for you! What does one do with all this stuff?
Apparently we sell it. Millions of Aussies (mind you, millions) will turn to Gumtree and eBay in a selling orgy to get cash for their unwanted, regifted or duplicate pressies. A Galaxy poll reckons in 2014 we received 20 million unwanted gifts worth $520 million. Holy Horde of Hapless Humans Batman, what is going on here?
It turns out we don’t know how to give the right gifts (duh!). I read an article last week in the Washington Post about how unthoughtful thoughtful gifts can be. A tongue twister, I know. It talked about how we don’t buy what people want to get, instead we buy what we want to give. And that when we buy gifts we focus on what people are like rather than what they would like. Hmmm…it begs the question, what was Uncle Mike thinking?
Perhaps, he wasn’t thinking at all, just trying to do the right thing without knowing what to buy. It’s a bit of a shame, really, when you consider the time, effort and money everyone has spent on well-intentioned but misguided gifts that will end up in landfill, re-gifted or sold on the Post Christmas Black Market. But it’s not all doom and gloom on the gift-giving front.
Mary Steffel offers some food for thought when we next venture out to buy a gift. (Mary researches gift-giving at the University of Cincinnati – who knew that was a career path!) “People want whatever it is they they happen to want in the moment, which can be very specific. You’re much better off asking people what they want.” Voila, this is why Santa has a list!
Mary goes on to say, “If that’s too callous, or impersonal, there’s another helpful rule of thumb. Instead of buying restrictive gifts, like gift cards for specific stores, buy gifts that allow for flexibility, like gift cards that can be used more broadly (or, better yet, cash). People tend to prefer gift cards to actual gifts, and cash to both.”
So there’s hope for us after all. Let’s just hope someone gives Uncle Mike the news. In the meantime, anyone interested in a yodelling pickle? Mint condition, never used!
So, you’re a nice parent. You want to show your gratitude. After all, that teacher has looked after your precious child all year! But you’re also a realist. What gift