Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The gift of giving and its positive impact on your own happiness

Only 12 days until Christmas. How do you feel? Is the stress beginning to set in and your credit card groaning from over-use?

Christmas is the season most associated with giving. But rather than this be an opportunity to show off to the neighbours or stock up on the latest gadgets and technology, there is actually a psychological benefit to giving – when it’s done with the heart, rather than the wallet.

There have been many studies on the act of gift giving over the years. This one by Yale University is about why sometimes our gifts miss the mark, even when we’ve put a lot of thought into them and is well worth a read before hitting the shops! It’s a complex subject and the giving/receiving of gifts is an important part of the relationships we have with other people.

It is often said that it’s the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological benefit from the sharing of gifts. This makes perfect sense when you think about the time and effort that goes into finding the perfect gift that our friends and families will love. It’s a big investment of our time and effort. Birthdays and other occasions are usually straightforward, as we have only one or two presents to think about. In contrast, at Christmas-time, we often have many people to think about and this can make it difficult to give gifts the individual attention they deserve – and that’s when the temptation to spend more than we need sets in.

We’ve come up with a few ideas to help you deliver thoughtful gifts this Christmas that will benefit you and the lucky recipient!

Giving time


In our busy, stressful daily life, we could all do with the luxury of more time. What better gift to give than offering to free up someone else’s time? This could be done through babysitting or dog walking tokens perhaps – or the promise of spending quality time with someone once the hustle and bustle of the festive season has passed.

Making memories


Rather than a gift, why not offer someone an experience? We’re not talking wing-walking or paragliding here, maybe an afternoon tea to spend with friends, or the promise of a cinema trip without the kids. When we are old and grey, we won’t remember what we had but will we remember those who we spent time with – and how that made us feel.

It’s the thought that counts


Finding and framing an old photograph; finding a first edition of someone’s favourite book; a packet of flower seeds that remind someone of a past holiday or special day all prove to someone that you understand them; that you will go above and beyond to make them happy. Luckily, recycling and upcycling are trendy again, which means it’s more than acceptable to make your own presents!

If spending a certain amount of money on someone is important, a thoughtful token or gesture alongside your usual store card or gift voucher is a great way of showing someone they mean something to you.

Food, glorious food


Baked goods are always made with love. Taking the time to create culinary delights has a double benefit. Not only does it give you the satisfaction of completing a task from start to finish, the end result is a thoughtful gift that shows someone you care. It also means that the recipient can’t help but think of you every time they eat a cookie, or spread jam on their toast!


study from the Harvard Business School looked into the benefits of charitable behaviour and the happiness it creates. We hope that this blog inspires you to prepare the kind of gifts that will make you feel great about giving. It really is worth the effort.

Remember, the exchange of gifts should be a shared experience. Something that strengthens the bond between you and your friends/family. If you feel that you have to give extravagant gifts in order for people to like/love you, then you have crossed the line into over-giving and that’s not good for anyone. 

You can check if you’re an over-giver, by reading this article.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and give some gifts!

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