Types of Gift Givers

by Alexandra Coulter

Are you happier giving a gift, or receiving it? Turns out there might not be a simple answer to this. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, the act of giving can come with a range of anxieties, the most important of which is: “Will I be giving a ‘bad gift’ – or will I be receiving a dud present myself?”

How you feel about the whole paper-tearing, box-opening mess can often be on display in the gifts that you give. Are you a thoughtful gifter or a status hound hell bent on making sure everyone knows you have the cash to buy whatever you like? Here are some common archetypes – see if any of them ring a Christmas bell.


This person often, but not always, has a lot of cash to splash around. But regardless of their disposable income, this gift is not so much to make you feel good as to make them look good. There will be very little thought put in to what you actually want, but it’ll be the latest and shiniest thing the Big Spender could find. It’s an ostentatious display of style and money that often leaves you feeling like they really don’t care much at all. On the bright side, you can exchange it for a whole handful of things you really do want. This comes into play with families, too, particularly around Christmas time. You may have asked your father to get the kids a book to put under the tree, only to find out on Christmas morning that he’s ignored you and bought them an Xbox. He’s trying to prove he can still be a provider, but it shows a lack of thought for what you want for your kids.


This person has decided they can use a gift to make a none-too-subtle observation about your life. If your mother has been hounding you for years about dressing more professionally, then she might give you a pack of ties for your birthday. If your spouse wants you to cook more, they might send you a kitchen-related message. This is rarely, however, a catalyst for great change. It’s more likely to irk the recipient.

"People approach the art of giving in different ways. Some throw themselves into present buying like Robert De Niro preparing for a new film role, while others can’t wait for the whole process to be over and take the fast-and-furious approach to shopping."


The gift this person gives is also more about them, and it has a long and involved story attached to it. It might be that the particular item was made in a small village in the Andes, or might come with an “Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way” tale about the lengths the Storyteller had to go to secure your jasmine-scented candle.

santa reading a story book

Santa sharing tall tales of his arctic antics with Rudolph...


This gift usually takes the form of money and while it is supremely useful for someone you don’t know very well, it can show a lack of imagination for a close friend or colleague. The practical gift giver might think that their envelope allows the person to pick exactly what they want, but what if the thing they want is a thoughtful present?


This is the type of gift giver we should all aim to be. A thoughtful giver tries to really put themselves in the other person’s shoes. What do they want? What do they like? What will make them happy? They don’t buy something they would like themselves, but instead do their utmost to find the perfect present for their friend or partner – the gift for them is a big smile when the person opens the wrapping paper. 

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