How to give the perfect gift

Giving a good gift is much harder than it seems. We had a look at why that is and found some simple ways to help you find the perfect gift.

Gift-giving is a huge part of our lives, especially during the festive period. It lets our loved ones know just how much we value them and helps strengthen relationships and bonds between us.

However, it turns out most of us aren’t very good at giving gifts. Roughly 10% are returned each year. This year it’s estimated around £3.2 bn-worth will be sent back and much of this will be destroyed. Many more gifts are kept by recipients but barely used, or they’re thrown away at home. In simple terms, a large proportion of gifts are not appreciated. Giving a good gift is harder than it seems but with the climate crisis deepening, improving our gift-giving skills has never been more important.

Sea Moss Candle
Classic T-shirt in White

Fortunately, there are plenty of studies that can help us out. Many academics agree that the fundamental issue with gift-giving is that there’s a mismatch between the desires of the giver and the desires of the recipient. If you can iron this out, then your gifts will be much better.

According to the research, the giver generally tends to focus on the moment of exchange. What gives us the most pleasure in the gifting process is seeing someone’s reaction to our present. We love seeing their smile or surprise when opening our gift and we subconsciously tailor our choice to that moment.

However, most receivers generally focus on how valuable gifts are once they’re owned and don’t think their reaction during the exchange is very important. Most of us would rather a gift that will be useful or enjoyable in the long term. No one wants a gift that makes us feel bad when we eventually have to return it, re-gift it or worst of all: throw it away.

Luxury British Wool Jumper in Natural Ecru Printed and Liberty Boxer Shorts

 Academics from the University of Chicago, Yang and Urminsky, say a good example is giving a dozen beautiful roses. The receiver is naturally amazed by them and will show it. This makes the giver feel great. However, they found most recipients would actually rather have twice as many rose buds that can be planted and enjoyed for years to come. In the words of Galak, Givi and Williams, “Givers should choose gifts based on how valuable they will be to the recipient throughout his or her ownership of the gift, rather than how good a gift will seem when the recipient opens it.”


So the trick to giving good gifts? Find something that’s essential to the person’s life, something that will get plenty of use. If that item is simple, well-made and long-lasting, then it will be appreciated and enjoyed for many years to come.

As luck would have it… that’s just what Sunspel does best.