The Story Behind the Holiday Gifts We Give

We’re in the midst of the biggest shopping frenzy of the year – it’s those last few days during which

We’re in the midst of the biggest shopping frenzy of the year – it’s those last few days during which so many of us completely lose sight of the carefully budgeted shopping lists that we created back in October and start shelling out cash left and right in hopes of finding our way out of the mall.  While you’re hurrying around picking up those last minute gifts, do you have any time to think about how much your husband/wife/cousin/boss/kid will actually value the wrapped treasures they find tucked under the tree?

WePay, a website that helps people collect, manage and spend money online, set out to do it for you. Over the shopping season, the company sees many of its users visiting the site to collect money from friends and family for group gifts. It begs the question, what’s the real story of ‘giftonomics’? WePay analyzed tons of research, reports and surveys from sources ranging from the Wharton School to Consumer Reports to the people behind National Regifting Day, and the results were surprising!

Are Gift Cards a Good Idea?
Rather than give someone a gift that they might not like, it’s better to just pick up a gift card so they can buy what they really want, right? Wrong. This year, $2.5 billion in gift cards will go unspent. Of that amount, $1.3 billion goes unspent because people won’t bother making the time. Another $1 billion or so will be forgotten altogether.
As fluffy as that cashmere sweater might be, its lucky recipient will perceive its value as significantly less than the amount it was purchased for. And ladies, contrary to what you might think, you place less monetary value on the diamond ring you are given than the guy who bought it for you.

How Much Do We Really Value the Gifts We’re Given?

What Happens to Our Gifts After They’re Given?
Many complain that the holiday season revolves around shopping and consumerism, but studies show that once the big day arrives, we are less focused on gifts than we think. Every year, at least one gift per person is regifted, returned or never even opened.

And How Do We Really Feel About Fruit Cake?
We all know that no one likes fruitcakes, right? Wrong, once again.  Although fruit cakes continue to be unceremoniously shoved behind the rest of the holiday cookies and cakes on the dessert table, one in four people still consider giving them as gifts.

What does this all really mean? To be clear, it’s certainly not that you shouldn’t enjoy and partake in the holiday spirit and feel great about giving to those most important to you. While so many of us are worrying about how much money we’re spending and who we still need to buy for, it simply helps to take a step back and rethink what it really means to give a gift.

(Based on the data, you’ll get more value for the money you spend if you splurge on a few gifts for yourself, so be sure to keep that in mind when you walk into that department store.)

Go to the WePay blog to view the complete Holiday Misgivings infographic.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest