A Story about Gifts

About a year ago, I received a Fitbit as a gift from my wife. This wasn’t a surprise since, when she asked what I’d like for my name-day (Saint Nicholas – Dec. 6), I mentioned that I’m considering getting a Fitbit, but I wasn’t comfortable paying $100+ on something to wear on my wrist. For those who don’t know me personally, I’m quite stingy when it comes to buying objects for myself.

My wife bought me a Fitbit. I’ve been using it for over a year now and I’m very happy with it.

Before my wife’s birthday (roughly 7 months after I received the Fitbit) I asked her if she’d like one as well. She was reluctant on the same grounds I was reluctant months before. Nonetheless, I bought her a Fitbit for her birthday. She has been using it ever since and is very happy with it.

Neither my wife nor myself were willing to buy for ourselves a Fitbit. Each of us received, from the other, a Fitbit and we are both very happy with them.

My wife and I share our finances, thus from an economic perspective it made no difference who bought the Fitbits since they were paid from our communal money.

The story’s moral: if you want to make a nice gift, buy something the receiver wants and would never buy (pay for it) him/herself even if (s)he can easily afford it. For us it was activity trackers. For others, most likely, something else will fit this profile.

For this year’s holiday season, my wife and I decided to forgo any material gifts. We decided to go for experiences - we booked a trip to a land that fascinates us both.

You can use the same rules of thumb when designing incentives (see the workshop Behavioral Design for Incentives, Rewards and Reminders).

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