Gifting Economy

It’s the Christmas season and a period of lots of shopping, mostly for others rather than oneself. Gifting is a tricky affair and most economists think it’s a bad idea to give someone something in particular. In fact, that might be the reason for Boxing Day; where you box up the stuff you don’t want from your Christmas gifts and give them to the less privileged. Yes, it is not another day to shop, and certainly nothing to do with fighting in the boxing ring.

It is much better for you to offer a cash gift and let people do the shopping themselves for what they actually need. Yet this can feel hyper-rational so the modern economy settles for something in-between by giving shopping vouchers instead. It is cash already spent on something but allows you to go through the process of choosing what you want on yourself.

And then there’s a whole economy and market out there which simply caters to selling products which are specifically designed to be gifts. These typically feature fancier packaging and more frills designed to pass the message ‘I’m being extravagant with you’. They are also environmentally unfriendly and produces much more waste than we need to.

Peacock feathers may be necessary for the peacock to attract a mate; but being environmentally wasteful to impress our fellow earth-dwellers probably is not wise systematically. Let us not be fooled by the ways of our culture.