Why Do We Give Gifts?

Why Do We Give Gifts?

This week in our series on gift-giving practices we’re taking a look at different theories for why we give each other gifts. The practice of gifting is so common in modern society that most of us don’t think about why we do it, but when you dig a little deeper you’ll discover a number of reasons for this tradition. Sometimes culture dictates when gifts are given, like on birthdays and at Christmas, while at other times, they’re given simply to build and reinforce relationships.


Giving someone a gift is a strong way to communicate your appreciation for the receiver. Some sociologists argue that this is the reason why we only give gifts to people we want relationships with. Certain gifts can also carry significant symbolic meaning and are used as a way of communicating with the receiver. Take for example flowers and engagement rings and what these tokens of appreciation symbolise when given to a romantic partner.


According to sociologist, Dimitri Mortelmans, giving someone a present creates a debt in the relationship, meaning that something is expected in return. When giving a gift to reciprocate, giving something much less valuable is considered a sign that you don’t appreciate the relationship equally. On the other hand, giving a much more valuable gift can also be a faux pas as this can create an embarrassing imbalance in the relationship.


As you can see, giving gifts is far from a simple practice and you can discover even more theories for why we give gifts in the visual below and the original article by Activity Superstore.


Why We Give Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

Types of Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

30th November 2018

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