Say It Ain’t So: 3 out of 4 People Won’t Like Their Holiday Gifts


Nearly 3 in 4 people (71% to be exact) won’t like the holiday gift you give them this season.  At least that’s the headline from the results of a holiday survey done by Rakuten Marketing.*

I can’t believe this is true.  How can it be that the majority of holiday gifts won’t be liked?  I’m hoping it was a poorly worded question or maybe an inappropriate conclusion was reached.  Maybe what they meant to report was that most people believe they will receive one gift that they won’t like.

Or maybe I just don’t want to believe the survey is right.

I believe gifts are a celebration of the people we love.  I believe that gifts that delight are a window into our hearts.  A special gift has the power to tell someone, “I see you.  I love you.  I’m glad you’re in my life.”

On the flip side, a gift that misses the mark is a bummer.  It’s no fun to be disappointed and to wonder what the heck the person was thinking of when they selected the gift.  Plus, etiquette dictates that you say thank you or at least acknowledge the gesture.  Though the response you’d like to give may be, “Wow!  This gift is a great example of what not to do,” it will make for an uncomfortable moment and a really long dinner.

Here are some tips to help YOU give gifts that delight this holiday season:

  • Get ‘em what they want-all too often people get something that they think the person should like.  “I know she said she wanted a watch…but I think what she really wanted was a blue cashmere sweater.”  Wrong.  She wants the watch—she said so!  And if you get her the sweater, she can rightly accuse you of not listening.


  • If you see a gift that’s absolutely perfect for you—buy it for yourself!  No one wants to receive a gift they don’t like, let alone a gift that is very clearly YOUR taste, not theirs.  It’s that moment that goes from “Oh!  You shouldn’t have!” to “Oh. You should NOT have.”


  • If you don’t know what to get the person, get a sentimental gift-People want to know they are loved and sentimental gifts do this brilliantly.   These are the gifts that bring people closer because they are celebrating the connection between giver and receiver.  Ask anyone who’s ever received a memory book of photos, and they’ll tell you it’s a family heirloom.  If that sounds like too much work, put a favorite photo in a picture frame and write a note on the back telling the person why it’s such a special picture.  Even if they hate the actual picture (“My hair looks terrible!”), they will be thrilled to know you thought it was special.


  • Don’t get anything just to get something-we’ve all been there…wandering the mall, desperately searching for the perfect gift…but we can’t find anything.   In an exasperated moment, we finally declare We Can’t Do This Any More and put some random thing in our cart.  DON’T DO IT.  If you don’t like the gift when you buy it, you are not going to like the gift when you give it.  Promise!


  • Let your relationship provide clues on what to get-How did the two of you meet?  What ties bind you together?  What happy memories do you share?  What makes the two of you laugh?   Answer these questions and I promise you’ll come up with a few great gift ideas.


Maybe I’m being stubborn, but I refuse to believe that most gifts will disappoint this season.  Please help prove the headline wrong and put the joy back into gift giving!  


(If like me you’re going, who???  Turns out Rakuten is the new name of…which seemed like a perfectly good, very intuitive name to me.  They’re also in the top 3 of ecommerce companies in the world.)3 out of 4 people





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