Which will your gift recipient like more?
A present that you buy them or a gift certificate that they can use to buy the same present.
Did you guess the gift certificate?
The gift certificate seems to make a lot of sense because it has the advantage of both getting the present or giving your giftee the flexibility to choose something else if they change their minds later.
It makes sense, but it’s wrong.
I’ve embedded an interesting TED talk below where Dr. Dan Gilbert talks about happiness research. In it he talks about how people are more likely to be happy with a fixed event than one over which they can worry.
Your giftee will be happier with the gift than the gift certificate.
What is also interesting is that (at about 18:28) he shows that 2/3 of students in a study choose the ‘gift certificate’ option that allows them to have flexibility – even though it will, in the end, make them significantly less happy.
We have been moving, as a nation, towards getting people gift certificates for a number of reason – among which is the belief that our giftees will appreciate the flexibility to get what they want. It turns out that this is the wrong thing to do if you want your giftees to be happy.
The best thing to do is ask your giftee for a wish, wrap it nicely and stick them with it. They will appreciate the gift as soon as they get it because they asked for it and Dr. Gilbert’s research shows that they will come to like it more over time than they did when they first received it.
What more could you want to give them?