Science Explains How to Give Meaningful Gifts for All Special Occasions

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Photo by Nick Youngson licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

We’re usually so focused on finding the “perfect gift for people on our list that we’ll spend $100 on something for its WOW factor without paying attention to how well it actually fits the recipient. Gift-giving can be a tedious process. What’s interesting is that gift-giving isn’t supposed to be that at all. It’s supposed to be fulfilling and rewarding, both for the recipient and the giver.

Did you know that there’s scientific research focused on gift-giving? There’s a lot of mystery surrounding gifting and how to make it meaningful. Therefore, researchers have found ways for people to give more meaningful gifts to employees, friends, families, neighbors and other important people in their lives.

Here are a few ways to do it:

Listen Carefully

Imagine how you’d feel if you unwrapped a present and inside was something that you had mentioned in passing to your significant other over a year ago. You never thought of the conversation again after that, and you weren’t expecting actually to receive it. Yet the quick mention of it was apparently enough for your significant other to show that she was really listening to you.

In most cases, that’s all we have to do to give the perfect gifts. Several studies show that people appreciate receiving things they want rather than just random presents wrapped in pretty packaging. So, if you think you’re being creative by getting something unique because your recipient’s requests sound boring, do yourself a favor and go with what he asked for. Guaranteed, just the fact that you were listening will mean more to your loved one than the present itself.

Give Experiences Instead of Stuff

A lot of research suggests that people would much rather have gifted experiences instead of stuff. Physical items wear out after a while or end up in a junk drawer forgotten about for years, but memories can remain forever. Researchers from the University of Toronto found that gifted experiences can create stronger relationships between the recipient and the giver than an item can.

For your loved one’s next birthday, consider cooking classes that can teach him how to cook delicious steaks (his favorite food!), or purchase a one or two-night hotel credit that she can use for her next stress-relieving vacation. Think about what your gift can help your loved one do and make memories with and you’ve probably found a winner.

Opt for Handmade and Hand-Me-Downs

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that gifts that move from one generation to the next can be some of the most heartfelt and memorable ones to give to someone. There’s something very personal about gifting a handmade blanket or a collage made from old family photos that you can’t find items you’d buy from a store.

To back up the evidence, consider the research that proves that most people feel a stronger connection to objects that evoke memories, like childhood toys and jewelry passed down between generations. Get creative with your gifts by wrapping family-related items with a twist or gifting a friend something that evokes a special memory of your bond.

Conclusion: Make Your Gifts More Meaningful

Gift-giving doesn’t have to be a loathsome activity! In fact, it can be incredibly rewarding to give someone a present that means something to them in a profound way. The key is to listen and understand your recipient on a deep level, so you’ll know what kinds of gifts will stand out to them as something special. When you follow the above tips backed by science, you’re sure to find the best presents for everyone on your list, no matter what the occasion is.

Check out our steak gift assortments and gift baskets with a personal touch that might appeal to the foodie on your list!