Gifts for everyone…It is (almost) Christmas

We are almost there….Christmas!!! Soon I will be heading back home for the holiday but before that there will be the annual gift buying ritual.

Gift xmas

I love gifts, especially when they are for me! Although I do not usually like surprises (do not try to organize a surprise birthday party for example!!). I love to receive gifts but I have the feeling that I owe something to the person who gave me it to me, on the other hand when I give something to someone, it just make me feel good. If I can see a smile or some kind of satisfaction I feel rewarded! 


All gifts are not created equally…meaning they are not purchased in the same way.

There are the ones you offer spontaneously, the ones that you have to offer, and the ones that are motivated (I am not the only one who had to do the last one I think). It is certain that depending on the conditions and assuming that the receiver do not know what intention underline the act of gift giving, I do not feel the same, starting from happiness and ending up with culpability, I will try to explain it.


In the analysis of gift giving act, by Sherry (1983) it is suggested that it has a social, economic, and personal aspects and develop a typology employing the nature of the gift, the relationship between the person who give and the person who receive, and situational conditions, like holidays. These are many variables but I am sure there is much more to take into consideration.


It seems that the gift search process has an importance as well according to Banks (1979), I am sure you can imagine searching a gift for hours, days, walking from one shop from another, how much value you will add to the wonderful Eiffel tower key chain and how the deception would be if the recipient do not even show half a smile…


When the time comes to make a gift to a certain person because you have to, the pleasure stop and the chore begins, it is even worse when it is an order. “They should have ask Amazon!”. Clee and Wicklund (1980) argue that the obligation to buy a present, (under certain conditions) could be perceived as a threat to freedom, eliciting psychological reactance leading to a rather a negative than positive experience.

While Belk (1979) observed that almost all gift item carry a symbolic meaning; thus the choice of present may be affected by the price that would be paid and the effort invested in the gift selection. The results of the process possibly carrying in function of whether the donor perceives the event as mandatory or voluntary. This tend to go in the same direction as Sherry’s (1983) study.


Gift phot



According to Schwartz (1967) “Gifts are one of the ways in which the pictures that others share of us in their minds are transmitted,” If I gift you with a beautifully designed bin bag, do not ask me any questions please. 


Merry Christmas Everyone !!!!!








3 thoughts on “Gifts for everyone…It is (almost) Christmas

  1. Hi,

    Nice post!

    I like your points about receiving gifts being part of a ritual, and how it is symbolic of the way that others perceive us.

    Kardes et al. (2011) note that possession rituals help to categorize us according to how the brands that we buy are categorized. (I touch on buying and consumption rituals, and how they can contribute to over consumption, in my post ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Particularly relevant at Christmas, I think!)

    How people perceive us is about what they feel are our ‘brand attributes’ and how we are categorized. If we do not feel that the gift reflects how we perceive ourselves, then that would suggest that either we need to work on our ‘branding’, or that the person giving the gift needs to make more of an effort?!

    Merry Christmas – and I hope that you’re pleased with your gifts!




    Kardes et al. (2011) – Kardes, Frank R., Cline, Thomas W. and Cronley, Maria L., Consumer Behavior: Science and Practice, 2011 South Western, Cengage Learning

    • I really liked this blog post. I find the cultural influences on gift giving can be extremely strong. They vary across cultures and even amongst families. Chinese culture indicates that family members should not give each other gifts When I was in Da Tong in China I learned that in China if someone gives you a gift ( which happened quite often in rural areas ) then it was seen as good to inmediately offer something in exchange if this person wasn´t a family member (Joy, 2010) . We got offfered a lot of beer because apparently locals love getting inebriated with foreigners. Back in Spain, my maternal grandmother which is from South Spain, has a completely different view of gift giving than my paternal grandmother had, she´s from North Spain. If you turn up to my maternal grandmother´s house with food it is seen as a massive insult because it´s like saying you don´t expect to be fed by her or that the food she prepares isn´t good enough for you. If you turned up to my paternal grandmother´s house without any food she´d see it as rude because then she´d have to make food for you . They both follow ” there must be food in every social occasion ” but who provides it and what is seen as rude is completely opposite.

      Joy, A. (2001). Gift giving in Hong Kong and the continuum of social ties. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(2), 239-256.

  2. We don’t just exchange gifts with each other, sneaky marketers try and attribute these kind, thoughtful characteristics to themselves. With certain deals you may be offered a free of discounted gift. Although this does significantly sweeten the deal, we actually value the free gift less. So that nice parker pen suddenly won’t give you the same satisfaction than if you had gone and bought it yourself.

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