If you’re getting started on your holiday shopping this weekend, here’s a tip: ask yourself whether you’re giving the recipient something they truly want, or something that will add extra work to their life.
Productivity and personal growth expert Nicholas Bate recently listed seven factors to consider before buying a present, and suggests that shoppers take “care with anything which demands more of [the recipient’s] time” or “adds to their to-do list.”
In other words: don’t give people gifts that are actually chores.
What does this mean? Well, you probably know what it’s like to receive that kind of gift—the ice cream maker that turns ice cream into a production rather than a purchase, for example. Instead of just buying a pint of ice cream, now you have to go get the ingredients, set up the machine, wait for the machine to turn the ingredients into ice cream, clean up the machine afterwards, and so on.
Some people love that kind of stuff, and other people will use their ice cream maker exactly once so they can post a picture on Facebook and let the gift-giver know their gift was, at least in theory, appreciated.
And, if you’re honest with yourself, you probably know whether the person you’re buying gifts for is the ice-cream-making type (or the symphony subscription type, or the daily meditation calendar type, or whatever). Sometimes we don’t give people gifts that acknowledge who they really are; we give gifts that are meant to nudge them into the person we’d like them to become.
Or we didn’t know what else to buy and, like, the ice cream maker was on sale.
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So before you make any purchases this holiday weekend, ask yourself whether the gift you’re considering will be a chore for the recipient to deal with. (This also goes for any gifts you give their children, especially ones that involve loud noises and/or tiny pieces.)
And if do you end up giving someone a present that they don’t actually use, remind yourself that it is in fact the thought that counts—and what you really gave them was the experience of opening a gift from someone they loved.