Which is more stressful: having no idea what to get someone for a gift and risking them hating it, or being on the receiving end of a really bad gift and having to pretend you love it?
Okay, both situations are pretty cringe-inducing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some science-backed way to determine the perfect present?
Well great news, gift-givers: Now there is, and science says sentimentality is the way to go.
“It seems like people are playing it a little bit too safe.”
A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology says that when it comes to gift giving, you should go with your gut and give your BFF that inside-jokey gift in lieu of, say, a pore vacuum (unless, of course, said BFF really wants a pore vacuum). “Givers seem to view sentimentally valuable gifts as having the potential to be either home runs or strikeouts, but they view preference-matching gifts as a sure single,” lead author Julian Givi tells Time. “It seems like people are playing it a little bit too safe.”
The study split participants into two groups: The first group was the gift givers, who were told to narrow their options to a sentimental gift and one with a ca-ching factor and decide which they would opt to give to a recipient. The second group—the receivers—were told to pick which gift they would prefer to receive.
Turns out, the two groups weren’t on the same page. The receivers opted for sentimental gifts more often than the givers chose to dole them out—meaning maybe you really should get your mom those DIY crocheted oven mitts she mentioned.
Bottom line: Don’t over-think it. “If you want to give something your recipient really wants to receive, you should at least consider giving something sentimental,” Givi says.
Figuring out sentimental gifts is hard, but start here: These are the best presents for each astrological sign, here are Marie Kondo’s tips for giving, and here’s what to get your favorite outdoor adventurer.