3 Mistakes To Avoid When Giving Gifts

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When people think about common giving mistakes, it’s easy to jump to extremes. You imagine the person who gives a fruit cake every year or haphazardly wraps an odd thrift-store find in newspaper. When it’s your turn to shop, even though you won’t make one of these over-the-top mistakes, you still likely feel stressed about getting the right gift. We’ll look at these less flagrant mistakes to avoid when giving gifts, so you can be generous with ease.


Let’s begin with a more obvious but still tempting mistake—re-gifting. Giving something you received in the past limits your options and treats your recipient like your recycling bin. Just because you’re not the biggest Steelers fan doesn’t mean it’s okay to pass your “Terrible Towels” off to someone who may or may not appreciate the gesture. Contemplating your purchase and shopping intentionally could yield a much better present.

In addition, re-gifting is especially unacceptable with some items, and handmade ones top the list. This is against the whole spirit of the occasion and offensive to the person who (whether it went over well or not) put considerable effort into making something just for you. It’s best to steer clear of re-gifting unless you just happen to have the exact thing they’d love.

Giving From Obligation

It’s also important to catch yourself when you’re not feeling the giving spirit. While choosing something for your yearly extended family gift exchange isn’t a riveting prospect, you must remind yourself how valuable it is for everyone to have fun together. Some added perspective prevents you from shopping out of obligation and letting that half-heartedness show when someone opens your gift.

Also, don’t feel like you must return the favor when someone surprises you with a present. In some cases, this makes sense, but it’s better to look at giving as an outflow of generosity without condition rather than a transaction.

Giving Based on What’s Available To You

Another mistake to avoid when giving gifts is giving because you come across something—even if it isn’t the perfect present. In the bustle of holiday shopping, it’s easy to view present shopping as a chore you want to cross off your list rather than an opportunity to be truly generous.

As you shop for one person, you may see an item that sort of works for another recipient. Rather than crossing them off your list by picking this item up, add it to your list and do some deeper thinking. Taking this time makes what you end buying much more intentional.