5 Gifting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: A guide by Pixajoy

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Gift Guide, Tips and Tricks

If you ever find yourself struggling when it comes to choosing the right gift for friends and family members, just know that you’re not the only one. In fact, a study showed that out of a sample size of 1001 people, at least  66% of them struggle with buying gifts – especially over the holiday seasons. While we admit that not everyone is gifted with the ability to pick out awesome gifts, some people may need more help than others.

From getting someone exercise gear (insinuating that they need to lose weight) to purchasing meaningless baubles that your friends or family members won’t have a clue on what to do with it – we’ve grilled our experts and have come up with a list of some of the biggest gifting mistakes that you’ll want to avoid. 

Mistake 1: Overspending

According to a study conducted in 2009, there seemed to be an asymmetric belief about gift price and feelings of appreciation. Gift-givers often think that by buying the more ‘expensive’ gift – like a big screen Smart TV or jewellery – that their receivers will appreciate and favour it more. In short, they believe that the more expensive the gift, the better (and more thoughtful) it is. 

In contrast, the gift recipient reported that there’s no such association between the price of a gift to their actual feelings of appreciation. Unfortunately, overspending is a common gifting mistake. It tends to happen when you’re buying a gift for someone who you aren’t really familiar with and are unsure of what they actually like. Besides putting a strain on your budget, the person receiving the gift might also feel ill at ease with accepting something so expensive! 

How to Avoid: Set a Budget

One sure-fire way to prevent yourself from overspending on a gift is to set a budget. Decide how much you want to spend on a particular group of people (acquaintances, co-workers, people you’re not particularly close to but STILL need to give a git to) and stick to it. 

For these types of people, sometimes even giving them a thoughtful and personalised card is enough to bring a smile on their faces. If you’re insistent on giving them a gift that they can use, a personalised twist to generic gifts like mugs, tumblers or coasters would be very much welcome! Customise them with their names, photos or favourite quote or saying and you’ll have successfully turned a generic gift into a one of a kind one!

Mistake 2: Procrastinating

Some people are gift-gifting superheroes. They seem to know exactly what to buy for someone for any occasion – be it birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties and the likes. But as mentioned earlier, not everyone is blessed with this seemingly innate ability. The fear of picking out the ‘wrong kind’ of gift often leads to many of us putting off buying a present until the very last minute. 

Karen Pine, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, England, who actually studies the psychology behind gift-giving has said that:

“We know that some people put it off because it’s too difficult and they’re indecisive. Or they don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort”. 

We’re sure some of you have experienced the situation where you put off buying a gift for so long and suddenly it’s the day before you need it and you have no idea what to get.


How to Avoid: Plan Ahead

If you do have a tendency to procrastinate, it’s best to make a list of events that would require you to buy presents and plan ahead. Use a notebook to list out the names of people you want to get a gift for and spend a few minutes each day browsing through gifting websites to find somethings that they might appreciate. If you’re stuck, just remember that your photos are a veritable goldmine for thoughtful gifts!

For example:

If you’re shopping for mom and dad or even your grandparents, try getting them something sentimental – like a personalised photo book or a nice framed print of the whole family. (Beats squinting at a tiny phone screen, that’s for sure!)

If you’re shopping for a younger sibling, maybe they’d appreciate a one of a kind tote bag (stylish and fashionable) or a set of polaroid style story tag cards to help brighten up their room.

If you’re shopping for a friend, you can always opt for something practical yet useful – like personalised stationery with their name on it or clever photo displays with your best moments together. 

Pro Tip: Most gifting websites like Pixajoy also run a lot of sales throughout the year. You can also plan ahead by stockpiling gift vouchers and prepaid deals (these usually come with about a 3 month validity) so that you’ll always have a simple yet thoughtful gift on hand for any occasion. 

Mistake 3: Unintentionally Offensive

Unless someone specifically asks to be given items that can be used for ‘self-improvement’, things like work out gear, self-help books or even something innocuous like household goods can all be misinterpreted as a backhanded way of telling someone that they need to:

  • Straighten up
  • Smarten up
  • Tidy up or otherwise change their way of life

You could have the best intentions in mind – maybe you decided to give them a perfume because you thought they might like the scent. But your receiver might take offense and think that the reason you’re giving them perfume is because you think that they stink! 

How to Avoid: Get something they might actually want 

“Nobody wants a gift that reminds you of your shortcomings. [The] key is to always consider the person’s taste then wrap it up with love and give from your heart.” – Susie Wilson, Etiquette Expert. 

Stop misunderstandings before they can even begin by avoiding purchasing items of this category unless your gifter has specifically mentioned that they’d be open to receiving these ‘self-improvement style’ gifts.  

Instead, opt for something simple yet thoughtful – like monogrammed throw pillows, quirky doormats or even personalised gift boxes with several practical items that are easy to use or figure out. 

Mistake 4: Surprise Pets

Contrary to popular belief, gifting pets to someone is not an uncommon practice. As social media would attest, plenty of people receive surprise pets as birthday, anniversary or Christmas presents. As much as we like to believe that everybody would love to receive their dream pet as a gift, live animals (regardless if they’re felines, canines, birds, rodents or lizards) come with huge financial and emotional responsibilities. 

Like children, pets would require food, doctor’s visits, medicine, toys and plenty of attention. According to the Malaysian Journal of Veterinary Research, the monthly household expenses for pets was estimated between RM1 to RM250 (82% of respondents), whereby 46% was spent on pet food and 27% on pet healthcare.  That’s about RM 3000 a year! Depending on the longevity of your chosen animal, that’s a pretty big investment – especially to someone who may not particularly have the time or means to take care of a pet.

How to Avoid: Ask before making a purchase

To avoid a well-intentioned gift turning sour, always ask the person you’re buying for beforehand if it would be okay for you to get them a pet. Pet’s are a full-time commitment and before you go down this route, you need to make sure that your recipient has both the desire and capacity to care for and keep a pet.  

If they aren’t able to commit to taking care of a pet, your receiver may have no choice but to re-house the animal somewhere else – causing upheaval, distress and upset (to both the animal and person). 

Pro-Tip: If your gift receiver is an animal lover, you can always give them the next best thing in the forms of wall art, prints or posters that feature their favourite animals. 

Mistake 5: Regifting (irresponsibly)

When it comes to the topic of regifting, there are usually two schools of thoughts. Those who are for it and those who are against it. The lines of thought of those who are for or against regifting might look a little something like this: 

  • For Regifting: It’s totally fine to re-gift something – especially since pre-loved items and sustainable living became popular.
  • Against Regifting: It’s tacky and inconsiderate to regift something – especially since gifts are supposed to be special! 

In this day and age, it’s pretty safe to assume that everyone, at some point in their lives, has regifted something – at least once. Personally, we believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to regift something, but only if it’s done right! Do keep in mind that re-gifting does not equate to getting rid of a ‘bad gift’ that you yourself have received. 

As mentioned before, gifts are a special thing and you could really end up hurting someone’s (either the original gifter or your gift recipients) feelings if your regifting is discovered!

How to Avoid: Follow regifting etiquette 

Okay, this might seem pretty obvious BUT we’ve seen a lot of people make this critical regifting mistake. Do NOT under any circumstances regift an item to a person who knows or interacts with the original gift giver. The reason is that there’s a higher chance of your regifting being discovered – especially if the item you regifted had unique features.

Besides the point mentioned above, here’s a list of some other regifting etiquette that you should follow so that you’ll be able to regift without remorse:

  • You’re sure that the gift you’re regifting is something that your recipient would really like to receive.
  • The gift in question is brand new (no cast-offs, pre-loved items allowed!) and comes with its original packaging and instructions.
  • The gift isn’t one that the original giver took great care to select or make.
  • The gift is not handmade or personalised in any way (think monogrammed or engraved).
  • Be sure to have some care when wrapping the gift (presentation matters!)
  • Avoid regifting to people who are in the same social circle

And that’s a wrap on our guide to the top 5 gifting mistakes and how to avoid them! In summary, it can be said that the art of gifting is more than simply giving someone a present or receiving one. From choosing a present that your loved ones will actually like, to the risky act of regifting, buying a gift can be a veritable battlefield! 

While we can’t help you choose the perfect gift for your loved ones, we do hope that this blog will at least make the process of buying a gift a little bit easier – now that you know what mistakes to avoid. 

Interested in getting personalised gifts? Check out our latest promos or explore our website for inspiration. 

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