Gift Giving Tip: Pretend Your Loved Ones Are Strangers

Apparently, we have trouble separating ourselves from our loved ones when it’s time to give gifts…and just get them whatever it is that we want. A recent study shows that people have a difficult time recognizing what their loved ones like, so much so that we’d be better off pretending we’re buying things for a stranger.
From CBS:

“Familiarity with another consumer is not particularly helpful when predicting the others’ product attitudes,” Lerouge and Warlop say. They find that even when our loved ones tell us what they like, we think we know better. The findings appear in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.”

Awesome. This explains why we always get new floor mats and Turtlewax from our dad. —MEGHANN MARCO (Thanks, JP!)

Why Our Loved Ones Hate Our Gifts [CBS]


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  1. Plaid Rabbit says:

    You too, huh?

  2. infinitysnake says:

    I asked for a skateboard for three years straight, always got a Barbie doll and a bottle of Jean Nate…. My mother in law buys me flannel, floor length nightgowns with scottie dogs, my mom thinks I need a bra with really good support…every year.

    My husband has a habit of getting the first thing by the register at the Hallmark store(?!?), so he’s not allowed to shop for me any more- I get a tattoo instead. ;-)

  3. ElizabethD says:

    Ha ha. This is why I always buy my own gifts for myself (thank you,, for the awesome string of freshwater pearls that came last week!). I give them to my hubby so he and the kids can wrap them and give them back to me in Christmas morning. At my age, I don’t need surprises (or mall trips to return stuff).

  4. There was only one Christmas I ever got what I actually wanted.

    Bah hambug indeed.

  5. Its really not that hard to notice when your significant other is interested in something… theres so many consumer products out there.

    Try going to the mall a month before the holiday madness and see what captures their interest. It has worked reliably for me.

  6. etinterrapax says:

    Heh. I thought I’d be the only one. I rarely get exactly what I wanted for Christmas or birthdays. I don’t know whether my husband doesn’t listen to me or observe what I do and like, or buys me what he’d want. Some of both, I suspect. And my best friend is surprisingly just as bad. The end result is that I just pick out what I like and get it when we want it and can afford it, holiday or not. And I’m trying to convince my husband to just use my Amazon wish list.

    My parents have been doing this for years, buying us what they want us to have. But they ge up about a year ago and just started giving us cash and gift cards. It’s oddly avuncular but not unappreciated.

  7. kerry says:

    Every year I get asked what I want for Christmas and every year I draw a total blank. Generally speaking I do a pretty good job of buying myself nice things, and so never have anything “saved” for birthdays and holidays. My more distant relatives shop for me as if I were a stranger and I’ve gotten so many paperweights, picture frames, crafty bars of soap and scented candles that I’m tempted to stop participating altogether. Please don’t shop for me as if I’m a stranger, shop for me as if you know something I might find useful. The best gift I’ve gotten and never asked for was a Turtle Fur neck warmer. That thing freaking rules. It serves a purpose, I never knew I wanted it, I use it every day in the winter and if my parents didn’t behave as if they knew me they wouldn’t have chosen it.

  8. spanky says:

    My boyfriend always gets me perfect presents, but everyone else sucks at it.

    Based on the crappy gifts I’ve gotten, I think one of the big problems is that people tend to focus on areas where they know the recipient has an expressed interest. But the flip side of that is that people are far more likely to be very picky about those things, and are also more likely to already have what they want and need.

    That said, that study is still dumb. Bedroom furniture? Who would pick out and buy someone bedroom furniture as a gift?

  9. mfergel says:

    I always have problems getting something for my wife. Last year I bought her a pearl set (necklace, earings, etc). She took it back. This year, I got her an HP 4×6 photo printer (she does scrapbooking). I wouldn’t be surprised if she takes it back. She kind of topped me two years ago when she told me she had no idea what to get me for Christmas so she let me go out and buy a motorcycle……..can’t beat that…….what a women.