When it comes to gifts, is asking for what you want selfish?

When it comes to gifts, is asking for what you want selfish?

Human beings are encouraged to ask for what they want. At work, if you don’t ask for a raise, you’re unlikely to get it. If you want your partner to do something, they can’t read your mind, you let them know. Psychologists encourage us to ask for what we want

Why, when it comes to gifts, is asking for what you want so awkward? And, on the flip side, why do givers think it is selfish that someone would ask to be given something specific? We’re here to break open the conversation about giving gifts, hopefully, encourage everyone to think differently about gifting, and give both givers and receivers some ideas on how to make gifting better.

An Wish vs. Demand

Any rational person knows the difference between a request and a demand. Asking for a gift is merely expressing a wish for something specific to your friends and family. What about having a list of things you want? Something that keeps track of things you would like to get yourself, or if someone else was kind enough to get it for you as a gift. Wouldn’t that be great? Does that sound selfish? 

Gifting is Hard

Look, it may be fun, but buying gifts for other people is hard. People are picky. Think about the last time your dad, your brother, or your niece really liked the gift that you spent days searching for because you thought they would love it. Did their satisfaction meet your expectations? According to psychologists, probably not. People generally have mismatched expectations when it comes to gifting. The idea that it is the thought that counts, is quaint, but totally unrealistic, and always has been. 

Further, when a gift isn’t well received, it stings in many ways. Socially, maybe there is now an awkwardness between you and the receiver. Financially, you are out whatever cash you spent on the gift. Temporally, the recipient now has an item that they need to return or exchange, and we all know that hassle. Or, spatially, the item is yet one more thing that will take up space in a closet, attic, or garage.  These stings can be avoided! Let your friends and family, the ones most likely to get you gifts, know what you want. Friends and family, ask your loved ones what they want. 

“Get Me Anything” isn’t Helpful

When you do ask, don’t take “well anything” for an answer because it’s not an answer. Emo Phillips, a comedian from the 1980s had a joke. He asked his Aunt what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “I don’t know. Something crazy and expensive, that I don’t even need.” So, he bought her chemotherapy treatments. This anecdote is shared in jest, but we all have experienced a time when our best intentions to give a good gift to someone who told us “anything will do” totally missed the mark. A recipient who shares something they want is actually being courteous and helpful to the giver.

The Power of Good Gifting

Hear us out. What happens when we get a gift that we want? We feel seen and appreciated, right? That the giver of the gift understands us and supports us. Do we have no responsibility over whether or not someone has the information they need to support and see us? Are our loved ones supposed to read our minds? That is a ridiculous question – mind reading (and ESP and alien life on Earth) isn’t real. 

What happens when we give a gift that is well received? When a gift is well-liked, as the giver we too feel appreciated and accepted. We know that we are adding something nice to the receiver’s life and we’re not creating any hassles – no returns, no “what the heck am I going to do with this thing”, no regifting – just shared joy in the moment of gifting. Joy is in the giving the experts say, but we all know that bad gifts don’t bring joy to either party.

One Solution to Better Gifting

To be supported, our loved ones need to share with us what they like to do, what they want to try to accomplish, or what they are into. Let’s say, we know Mom wants to learn how to surf. Do we know if she has a wet suit? What about a surfboard? Has she taken lessons? What if mom put all those items on a gift list and let everyone in the family know what they can give her as a gift – for her birthday or Mother’s Day. (It’s May 14, 2023, for all those keeping track.)

What is a gift list exactly? It’s a curated list of things you want from the stores and brands you want. Some people keep lists on a pad of paper, others use Google Sheets, and some have “wish lists” at certain stores. But none of these are sharable, nor are they shoppable. Let’s give your loved ones a break! Use a MyRegistry Gift List. Why?

Make it Universal

First off, the MyRegistry Gift List is universal which means you can add any item from any store to the list. It’s sharable, which means all you must do is send your loved ones a link for them to see the list. You don’t have to make it a big deal. Just a “Hey son, if you’re thinking about getting me something for Mother’s Day, here are a bunch of things I’d love. [Insert Link] MWAH, Mom!” 

Express yourself!

Since you can put anything you want on your Gift List, a gift list can express who you are and what you’re all about. That surfer Mom above, she wants a purple wetsuit or a purple swimsuit from a store she knows, and a brand she loves. She’s eco-friendly too, she wants her surf wax biodegradable, and her surfboard maker VOC free. The gift list makes it easy for loved ones to find and buy the gifts too. The retailer where they can purchase it is on the list. Gift lists are shoppable! Click that “Add to Cart” or “Buy” button and boom, gifting superherodom. 

A Custom Gift Guide

A gift list is a Gift Guide just for you! It is personalization at its best. Those “85 Gifts for Mom at Mother’s Day”, “52 Gifts for Soccer Fans”, or “25 Gifts for Your Wife” don’t hold a candle to a list you create yourself. Who knows what you want better than you and because a Gift List can include any item from any store you can include stores where you like to shop, styles that you know look great on you, and other items that can help you enjoy the activities you love.

One Last Thing

For givers, maybe you know someone who’s making a fresh start, celebrating a milestone, is hard to shop for, or already “has everything”. Ask them to turn their wish list into a Gift List. Let them know a Gift List will help you to get them something they will love, enjoy, and appreciate. Tell them you want them to ask for what they want. It’s ok. It’s not selfish.


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