Why Do People Struggle in Finding the Best Gifts for Their Loved Ones?

Occasions and holidays are both exciting and exhausting. The mini-reunions, joyous music, and delicious food on the table make the merriment extra special. But every fun event may also mean having to face the ever-exhaustive gift picking.

When coming up with gift ideas, we have to think of something our loved ones will need — with a dash of sentimental value. And that alone is enough to drive us mad. With this, it’s safe to say that most people find the whole gift-giving shenanigan tiresome.

To understand why we fall into anxiety throughout the whole gift exchange business, we broke down the common factors that make us struggle. We also shared practical tips on overcoming this anxiety to find the perfect present eventually.

The Struggles of Gift-Giving

When it comes to gift-giving, there are inherently gifted people at picking the perfect present. Meanwhile, some still need to weigh the pros and cons of choosing the salmon pink sweater over the dark pink one.

If you belong to the latter part of the spectrum, you are not alone.

There are reasons why we find it so hard to select the best present. As such, below are the three common factors why we struggle to choose the perfect gift.

1. We try hard so hard to be considerate

When gift-picking for a loved one, we worry about getting things right. We wonder if they’d love it or toss it around the corner and forget about it. We worry if it properly conveys our affection for that person. And worst, we fear it’ll affect our relationship with them.

We let ourselves worry way too much that we forget why we’re gift-picking in the first place. And so, our innocent gift shopping for an upcoming occasion has turned into a well of anxiety. 

Free yourself of that worry.

Gifts may be a form of love language, but they shouldn’t hold so much power that they break a bond if done wrong.

Eric Patterson, a licensed professional counselor, advises us to set realistic expectations for ourselves and the gift we’re giving. For him, presents do not possess magical powers to improve or harm a relationship.

We need to accept that we don’t have control over how receivers respond to our gifts. We should settle on the fact that good intentions don’t always make a good present. And that is entirely okay.

2. We worry about the budget

How much should I spend on this gift? Should I pick the more expensive one with excellent quality, or do I settle for the cheaper option with slightly lousy quality?

As if the whole gift-giving affair isn’t stressful enough, there is still the matter of whether a present fits the budget or not. It’s a struggle because the quality of the gift can often represent our relationship with the recipient. And the higher the quality of an item is, the more expensive it can be.

As it turns out, practicality seems like an enemy of lavish gift-giving. In our hope to offer a nostalgic gift, we fall into the pit of giving expensive ones. It’s because we assume it makes it more sentimental. 

But if there’s something most recipients least care about, it’s the gift’s price.

In a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research, they asked givers and recipients to rate presents along with two metrics: desirability (i.e., a restaurant’s quality, a coffee maker’s cost, or a game’s visual complexity) and feasibility (i.e., a restaurant’s proximity, a coffee maker’s practicality, or a video game’s learning curve).

Across different experiments, researchers found out that gift-givers give presents based on desirability when gift receivers only want what’s feasible.

So, if the budget is stopping you from getting the perfect gift, don’t. Instead, focus on other things to make the gift special.


One way to do that is to give your loved one an excellent gift-opening experience. Don’t just place your presents in a plain paper bag. Add a fun effect to it. You can play with the box wrappers where you write instructions like “Open me first,” so the receiver feels like they’re on a scavenger hunt. 

All in all, focus on being extravagant in areas you can control.

3. We don’t have enough time 

Some of us may not find money a problem but then lack the time. 

For months, you’ve been planning your holiday gifts, but then you can’t get out of the office to buy them. And before you know it, it’s a few days away from Thanksgiving or Christmas!

If this happens, turn to online shopping. It’s just a few clicks away, and you can do it during lunch or bathroom breaks.

But what if the reason why you lack the time is you’ve wasted it overthinking the whole gift? 

Your simple plan of getting something sentimental for a loved one has become filled with anxiety. Before you know it, the supposed meaningful gift ends up being a fast-food gift card. It has become too generic and impersonal.

Shawn M. Burn, a Psychology professor at California Polytechnic State University, says that our personalities can exacerbate the anxiety we experience when we plan out gifts. This anxiety is self-inflicted, so the stress starts internally rather than externally.

As we mentioned above, stop worrying about things you have little control over. If you think your gift is already perfect, don’t waste time overthinking it and move on. 

Also, if you want to get a romantic gift for a loved one, you can always prepare the bouquet first. It’s a perfect second gift along with your main one. The woman in your life would surely gush over it.

How to Choose the Perfect Gift

Now that we’ve broken down the common anxiety traps we fall into and how to overcome them, let’s talk about the best ways to choose the perfect gift. We also included some gift suggestions for your loved ones to enjoy.

1. Tailor the gift to the recipient

The first step of any gift picking is knowing the person who will receive it. Know what they want and need. Visit their Facebook and Instagram accounts and check what they’re constantly sharing and talking about. Avoid asking the person personally because that takes the surprise out of the gift-giving. 

Also, select a gift that a receiver would love rather than what you think they’d like.

2. Give hand-me-downs

Store-bought presents don’t guarantee appreciation from a loved one. Family heirlooms like a piece of jewelry or a grandfather clock may even be a more terrific option. 

Your loved one may appreciate this more as heirlooms tend to be more meaningful. They represent memories. They hold a story worth sharing.

3. Give experiences

Budget and time are the most common reasons we feel anxious when picking a gift for a loved one. But that doesn’t mean we will let them control us. 

If strapped with money, there are cheaper options that sell vintage items. Just be patient in scouring that lovelier and more affordable choice.

If you lack time to prepare for a gift, turn to online shopping. Most local stores today are now present online. Try looking them up and shop through their digital platforms.

You can also get creative with the way you present your gift. You can excite your loved ones just by the way you wrap the present. For example, customize your gift so that it comes springing when opened. Your loved one may also find gag gifts hilarious — but be sure to give the real one after!


Nevertheless, let your imagination play if you want them to enjoy your present more.

4. Add your personal touch to it

Finally, add personal touches to your gift. You may either customize the wrapper, use your favorite color for the bow, or throw in a heartwarming card inside. Whatever you do, be sure it’s personalized, so it shows a piece of your character.

Final Note

The entire gift-picking shenanigan can be tiresome. But the warm hugs of appreciation from our loved ones make it all worth it. 

Nonetheless, remind yourself that a lousy gift doesn’t equal a bad relationship. If you’re too worried about the perfect gift, you can always look for some gift guides online. Don’t stress yourself way too much.

The point of a family event or holiday is to celebrate life and love together. So, let loose and enjoy!

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