One of the traditions my family has experimented with in the past few years is the holiday gift truce. At Thanksgiving we agree to terms. In the past we’ve exchanged names and given one gift per person or we’ve just agreed to not do any gift giving or shopping (kids are exempt). Though we haven’t tried it, another option would be to contribute to a favorite charity, say Heifer International, in lieu of gifts.
Economics professor Joel Waldfogel has studied the inefficiencies of gift giving and calls Christmas, “an orgy of value destruction.” The problem? When it comes to gift giving we’re not very good at guessing what people actually want. In a Bloomberg article Waldfogel says, “People value the items they receive as gifts 20 percent less per dollar spent than the items they purchase for themselves. These are items that are not well-suited for their tastes.”
Particularly in challenging economic times it’s hard to justify this orgy of value destruction, not to mention the stress and time spent in mall parking lots. I’m interested in how readers of this blog navigate the holiday season. Do you make your own gifts? Do you think gift giving is important? Do you give cash or savings bonds? Or do you avoid gift giving altogether?