You know you want to ask.
99.99% of gift advice on the internet is about finding a good gift idea for someone else.
This isn’t one of those articles.
You know you want to ask but let me save you the awkwardness and ask for you: how can I get my family to buy me the presents I want instead of junk?
Family or friends everyone has someone who insists on ignoring wish lists and all common sense so that they can buy you something bizarre from the clearance sale at an outlet mall.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything in particular that you can do to get someone to spend more money on you. Be a nicer person, maybe. Maybe save their daughter from a dragon if they have a daughter… and a dragon.
But while you shouldn’t expect anyone to spend more money on you, (and surprisingly you probably wouldn’t be happier if they did) but you have every right to encourage them to not waste the occasion if they are going to buy you a gift anyway. If they get you something that you are not going to use no one is happy.
If they buy you a gift that you love and use and talk about for years to come then you benefit, obviously, but they also get more benefit out of the giving. So how can you help them help you?
Ask for Fewer Things
Ask for less. Or better yet ask for just one thing.
It seems counter intuitive but in a study on gift-giving behavior researchers found that people were more likely to buy a suggested gift if the recipient asked for only one thing. It’s counter-intuitive, but it seems that if you ask your gift giver to pick between three or four items that you have specifically asked for they are more likely to bail and go look for some entirely different item that is their own idea.
If you pick one item the message seems to be different.
Three or four items seems to be interpreted as “I like lots of things, here are some examples.” Picking one item seems to be interpreted as “This, get me this.” It’s not clear why adding more wishes changes how the wishes are interpreted but you don’t need to know why to use the results of this research.
One item per person.
If you are using Amazon for your wish lists you can now set up as many wish lists as you want. You can set up a dozen or more wish lists – one per person and then send out the links to each person. It’s more overhead for you to keep track of, but it decreases the number of gifts you’ll want to return the day after.
Be Explicit About Wanting Your Wishes
I happen to know that my audience here at Duck Duck Gift is quite a bit more tech savvy than the average Joe the Plumber. You are more likely to shop online and more likely to be comfortable using internet wish lists.
That’s part of your problem.
If you’ve ever tried using an Amazon wish list as your birthday or Christmas wish list (or, God forbid, something as unknown as wishlist.com or wishlistr) you may have been shocked to find how rarely it is used.
I’ve had an amazon wish list for at least a decade now, but if I count the number of people who have used it in that time I would probably only need one hand. I might even be able to spare my thumb.
I’m thinking that like me you also forget that most people do not do much shopping on line and will not be 100% on board as soon as they get a link to your Amazon wish list.
Make it easy for them – include, along with your link a short paragraph ‘selling’ how easy it is to use your Amazon list.
Here’s my Amazon Wish List.
You can click this link, select any gift off of it (I’ve updated it recently – I want all of these!)
Please pick my gift from this list and order it through Amazon. Shipping will be free, you’ll probably pay less than you would in a store and you can have the whole process done in less time than it would take you to find your keys, let alone drive to the mall.
Better yet you can send out a tailored one-item list and alter the paragraph accordingly.
It might feel a little odd to be so direct about the matter (at least it feels odd to me, but then again I am an introvert), but remember that you are helping them. You are saving them time and you are saving them from getting you a gift that you don’t want. Don’t be shy.
Ask for Their Wishes
Both steps one and two will work best if you are willing to talk to your gift giver explicitly about what you want. You could come out and say that you only want items from your gift list and nothing else, but that seems ungrateful if not downright rude.
Instead you can ask them what they want (for reciprocal gift giving occasions like Christmas this is easy, for other occasions you may need to play the long game and bring this up their timetable) and possibly tell them that you read on a great web site about how great gifts usually come off of wish lists.
Share this article on FaceBook or bring the idea up in conversation. I think the situation is interesting enough to talk about (obviously) perhaps you do too.
At the very least it is a conversation that makes it less likely that you will get a load of silly gifts that you don’t want.
In fact – I hope we all want fewer gifts to be wasted gifts. Head over to the best gift ideas article right now and share it on FaceBook.