Why an All Occasion Gift List Holds the Secret to Good Gift Giving

Why an All Occasion Gift List Holds the Secret to Good Gift Giving

When it comes to gift giving we are told that it is the thought that counts. However, we all have the experience of receiving a gift and wondering “what exactly were they thinking?” The best intentions of the gift giver can sometimes be well hidden in gifts with little connection to a receiver's interests, style, or values. The end result of gifting with the giver’s “thought” as their guide has been an economic and psychological minefield.

Psychologists suggest that one outcome of bad gift giving is anxiety over gift giving. Some economic researchers have opined that gift giving is essentially a waste of money, because there is a misalignment in utility for the receiver. Even seemingly benign options like gift cards have billions of dollars of trapped value that are never used. 

People are now realizing that the reason why registries work for weddings and babies are the same reasons why registries will work for EVERY gift giving situation, making gift giving better, easier, and more fun for both the giver and receiver.

An always on, “all occasion” for any gifting moment gift list just makes sense. People “in the know” already use such gift lists – only informally.  In an article in Architectural Digest designer Sidney Gore describes the Google spreadsheet that she uses to track items she wants and then shares the link with her friends when there might be an occasion where they are looking to get her a gift.  What is that spreadsheet, if you add shareable and shoppable features built in?  That’s right, it’s a gift list. 

Jeff Galak, a marketing professor from Carnegie Mellon University, in a recent Hidden Brain  podcast about gift giving shared that he and his wife also have a spreadsheet that keeps track of various items they might want as a gift. A primary reason behind the list is that Galak, like many people, is picky, when he wants something – like an espresso machine – he knows exactly what he wants. In an economic sense, an “always on” gift list maximizes the value of the gift you give as it will be kept and used because it is exactly something the receiver wants. 

These are novel, homemade solutions to the gift list, but MyRegistry offers a better solution. Any item from any store - online or in store. It’s easy to use and easy to share. Jess, a MyRegistry user, first used a gift registry for her housewarming. She found it so useful, she asked her whole family to use the app for Christmas. “It’s so easy and convenient,” she says. In fact, there are thousands of MyRegistry users who create gift lists for different occasions all year round.  

On the podcast, Galak also talks about the different motivations behind the giver and receiver in a gift exchange. The giver is looking for that element of surprise and excitement: “I can’t wait to see the look on their face.” Where the receiver is thinking about their life long relationship with the gift: “Where am I going to put this thing?” The shared gift list adds the benefit that both surprise and utility can be achieved. Although the gift list creator knows what they are asking for, they have no idea when that gift will be given. In fact one nifty little feature on MyRegistry is that the giver can mark the gift as a surprise and keep the element of delight intact. 

So the next time you think about your year-round gifting occasions, from anniversaries to birthdays, from mother’s day to the holidays, is it only the thought of the giver that counts? Or should gifting be focused on what YOU want? Can gift lists prevent the associated costs of bad gifts? The hassles of returns or exchanges, the embarrassment of regifting, money trapped on gift cards or gadgets sitting idle in a closet. Can an all-occasion, always-on gift list make your friends and family better gift givers? 

MyRegistry has built a business helping countless couples begin their lives together, moms and dads start their families, and charities collect in-kind donations all using gift registry technology. We believe that the best way to let people know what gifts you want from them is to just tell them, regardless of the gifting occasion.


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