a very merry scrooge

The Deadweight Loss of Christmas chronicles the poor economic choices inspired by holiday giving.  The economists behind the article suggest that most givers ‘use their best guess’ to shop for friends and family, and about approximately 10 percent of these purchases end up being a “deadweight loss” – a result of the recipients not actually wanting the presents they receive.

In my book, these economists are akin to Mr. Scrooge himself for not considering the thoughtfulness that goes into each of the gifts.  What’s wrong with the recipient not truly loving the gift, as long as they understand the sentiment behind the purchase?  If my sister buys me a book I already have, I’m happy that she thought of me – not upset that I’ve already read it.  Hopefully I can return the book and get something that I haven’t read the next day.

This is a pretty long setup for the real topic I wanted to bring up today:  Christmas Lists.  Growing up, my family always took a ‘thoughtful’ approach to gifts and spent a lot of time making, crafting, and, well, guessing what everyone in the family wanted.  Jon’s family, however, makes the economists smile by embracing the all-important Christmas Wish List.  A few days after Thanksgiving we all exchange a list of our Christmas dreams, and, well, they usually come true under the tree on December 25.  Convenient, right?

What do you think – should we exchange gifts based on intuition and thoughtfulness, or should we rely upon carefully crafted list of our wants?

11 thoughts on “a very merry scrooge

  1. This is a very thought provoking post because I have a love-hate relationship with ‘The List’. It’s practical, it’s efficient, but somehow it just doesn’t feel the same. I rely heavily on the list for all the men in my life. I can never seem to predict accurately what will excite them.

  2. Ahhh, what a very interesting topic for discussion 😉 Personally, I like to be “surprised” by the thought that goes into gift giving. When I tell my wife exactly what I want for Christmas, you more or less know what the wrapped package sitting under the tree is. It’s just a matter of waiting to open it on Christmas morning. However, when you have no clue what is beneath that wrapping paper, your mind races, you are brimming with anticipation, and you can’t wait to discover. Not only discover what your gift is, but discover something new about the gift giver and what thoughts have gone into their choice. And it’s just as fun (in my opinion) as a giver as it is a receiver. In a sense, giving gifts is a way to grow a relationship by learning more about each other, what makes each person tick, and demonstrate your desire to put time and effort into a thoughtful offering. Just my 2 cents, maybe closer to 3 cents 😉

  3. Such a great post! And a great question! Darrin is so good at getting gifts, and most of the time he will pick out a gift that is PERFECT for the other person…not based on lists but based on the individual and their life “at that moment.” And they are always perfect! I’m all for lists (I’ve got a major case of List OCD), but sometimes other people can see what we need better than we can! 🙂

  4. This is a hard topic. I am mostly against lists because I enjoy seeking out the perfect present for someone. On the other hand, some people are bloody hard to shop for! My family is anti-list and Brian’s family is pro-list, so in the end I get the best of both worlds I suppose.

  5. This is the age old debate in my family. We all live far apart so it’s hard to know what someone might “need” because you don’t see them all the time. Making a list helps narrow down what someone might be looking for. Plus, I have a very picky family so it saves a lot of time and heartache for me to have a list.

  6. What an interesting post and I had to think about it all morning. I can go either way on the list vs intuition thing. We have family far away and we only see them 6 times a year so we exchange lists. I mean, I have a nephew who is 20 and who knows what he is into nowadays? My husband and I love to go shopping for each other. We know what the other person likes or needs… chocolate! 😉 You can still be thoughtful in your gifts with a list. You just have to be creative! 😉 Thanks for sharing, Jen, and I hope you have a beautiful day!

  7. Hmmm, good question… I think I like surprises the best! Even if it means having a few things I won’t use, I’d rather have the anticipation and the fun 🙂

  8. I’m torn on this as well. I used to learn towards surprises, but sometimes I have something very specific in mind and there’s so much joy in getting exactly what you want. Perhaps a happy medium would be an “idea” list like you posted in your Angel Tree post today (I would enjoy a new fiction book or bath goodies or crafting supplies). This year Justin and I are getting a PUPPY as our holiday gift to each other which makes for no-shopping, no-stress gift giving. That is until he comes home and starts potty training 🙂 Cheers, and happy shopping!

  9. I see both sides of the argument! On the one hand, I tend to be fairly picky, and I don’t buy myself stuff “just for fun” often, so I enjoy getting presents that are truly my style–that’s in favor of the list. On the other hand, there’s nothing like a surprise, and sometimes the stories and the memories that go along with ridiculous presents are more important than simply getting something on your list. The first Christmas we were married, Angel bought me a huge rubber band ball. So random…and not really something I ever would have dreamed of wanting, in reality…but to this day I can’t see a rubber band ball without smiling and thinking of Christmas with my brand-new husband who really didn’t know how to shop for his wife. I’d say the rubber band ball was a worthwhile investment.

  10. I really like lists as a base to go from, because often I’m clueless. I like looooong lists though so that it’s still a surprise what the person gets, but I can still choose what I want to get them and I know they’ll be happy with the present.

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