Does My Gift Define Me?

In our first blog, “Why do we buy Gifts for Friends and Family”, we touched on the psychological aspects of gift giving: the mental and emotional benefits from being the giver as well as the receiver. Most people, however, may not appreciate the fact that the actual gifts we choose to give often reflect how we are seen or perceived by the receiver. Let’s dig a little into why this happens and why it matters.

At the most basic level, gifts can bring a mixture of emotions. Both the giver and the receiver can experience either broad positivity or negativity based on whether the gift is within the receiver’s expectations. Sometimes this reflects only the attributed monetary value or physical size of the present. More often is a complex reaction to how the particular gift (or the category to which it belongs) is seen. A receiver can have immediate feelings of disappointment if they feel a giver (especially a close family member or friend) has not spent sufficient effort or time in considering what might be valued or wanted.

Think about those last-minute holiday gifts you grabbed as you rushed home after work. Socks and ties, candy/chocolate, and even books are easily chosen but may convey a lack of pre-thought and deemed to be chosen as a “safe” or even boring choice. Personal scents and jewelry maybe perceived as “sweet” but only if the quality is high enough. Clothes, on the other hand, may be perceived as more considerate, but can run into problems of personal taste and practicality with additional dilemmas in size and design/color. Alcohol can be a safe choice (especially when given in person) but care needs to be taken that the particular alcohol is enjoyed by the receiver. Even red versus white wine can cause “rifts”. Finally, on the physical side of things, vouchers or gift cards are often seen as offering choice to a receiver to buy what they like. However, they can also convey a lack of thought or a “last minute” attitude.


In the non-physical gift category, giving different kinds of experiences has become increasingly popular and can often surprise and delight the receiver. However, are needs to be taken to think carefully about what the receiver might enjoy or be willing to experience.

The bottom line is that why gifts are chosen will always say a lot about the giver. Therefore, the more we take care to think about the gift, the better it will be received.

Present-ly is a mobile gift shopping app that collects personalized gift ideas for your friends, family and colleagues, all driven by your mobile calendar. Personalized gifts from Amazon, Etsy, Groupon and little and large unique online stores from around the world are delivered as options to choose from to your mobile device, along with relevant reminders to let you know there is a special occasion coming up. In addition to tangible gifts (those things you give in a box or basket), we are curating experiences to gift to your loved ones.

Kristen Tepper