Here Is the Worst Kind of Gift You Can Give

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Everybody loves to get presents — that's true no matter what age we are. We also love giving gifts, often more than receiving them. The whole exchange generates a lot of feelings on both ends, but how we frame the act can change a lot about how we interpret it.


Researchers at Ohio State University have just released a study that helps us understand the worst ways to give a gift, even if your intentions are totally pure. When it's time to write a card or watch someone open your present, avoid telling them that gift will help them save money. Recipients "thought the gift-giver was implying they couldn't take care of themselves and were incompetent because they needed money," said co-author Grant Donnelly.

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Instead, to help your recipient feel their best about an item, tell them it will help them save time (assuming it actually does). "When you don't have time, you're perceived as busy and in high demand," Donnelly said. "There's something high-status about that, compared to not having enough money, which is seen as low status."


The way we give gifts has been examined and reinforced through thousands of years of culture, and ultimately, it says just as much about us as it does the person for whom we choose something. If the OSU study makes you panic a little, don't worry too much: We've also spent a lot of time studying the best ways to pick out a present, no matter how well you do or don't know a person.