3 Considerations for Holiday Gift Giving

I recently attended an event to listen to a hugely successful speaker, Jeffrey Hayzlett, share business ideas for aspiring speakers to build their businesses. At one point he talked about working with the automotive manufacturer Chrysler. He was in a commercial for the Dodge Ram pick-up truck and afterwards was given a free truck!

As he told the story he was giddy! I asked, “Was the truck part of the contract or a surprise gift afterwards?” He said it was a surprise gift. I followed up with, “You can obviously afford that truck many times over so why did it mean so much to you that they gave it to you?” His response, “Ever since I was a kid I liked to win things. For me it was like winning something.”

He told several other stories of getting gifts. What’s the point? Even people who are extremely well off like getting gifts! It’s a very natural human response. That begs the question; what constitutes a good gift? We’ll take a look at three things that can make your gift giving stand out from the rest.

Personalized just for you

Here’s a mistake – when you give a gift you focus on what it means to you. No, no, no! Gift giving is all about what it means to the person you’re giving to. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person can afford it. What it means, or represents to the other person.

With Jeffrey’s story two things stood out. First, he liked pick-up trucks and already owned at least one so getting a new truck meant something to him. Second, he liked winning which went to one of his core motives.

Interestingly, he went on to tell us when he was Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak he had some celebrities who called him regularly for a free camera. They’d been given a free camera in the past and liked how that felt. Think about that; these multi-millionaire celebrities enjoyed getting free cameras that only cost around $100.

It’s not about what it means to you; it’s about what it means to them.


As noted earlier, the truck was not part of the contract. If it had been then it would not have been considered a gift. If it had been negotiated in the contract the truck would have been reduced to a monetary part of the transaction; a reward of sorts.

When the truck was given as an unexpected surprise after the fact it was attention getting! As the holidays approach there will be lots of gift giving. It’s expected. It’s also expected that gifts are given on birthdays. But, when you give a gift apart from holidays, birthdays or something negotiated, the gift will mean more because there was no expectation.

Create a sense of, “Wow, thank you so much!” by giving when it’s not expected.

More is better…to a point

When you give gifts, generally more is better. For example; a $25 gift card to a restaurant is nice. A $50 card is twice as nice but at some point you can give too much. Someone saying, “I appreciate you so I thought I’d get you this $1000 gift card,” wouldn’t be appropriate for most people.

Why can giving be too much be inappropriate sometimes? Because once you give a huge gift the other person will feel some obligation to “repay the favor” in the future. It would be awfully hard for most people to do something on par with a $1000 gift card.

You don’t need to give much to make someone happy and sometimes a little more will make them a lot happier.

To Do This Week

Giving gifts and doing favors for people engages the principle of reciprocity. This principle of influence creates an obligation in most people to repay the favor. The obligation isn’t bad because it’s useful to form relationships. I give to you and you give to me. We’re both better off, a win-win. With the holidays approaching there’s no better time to practice reciprocity.

  1. Personalize Gifts. When giving gifts be thoughtful about what your gifts mean to each individual. It may not be an unexpected gift during the holidays but the more you give in a personalized way the better the other person will feel.
  2. Practice Gratitude. Express sincere appreciate for any gift you’re given. How you thank someone can make someone’s day and might just reinforce that they’d like to give to you in the future.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – was one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by nearly 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.