Whether Christmas is coming up, a birthday is around the corner, or you just feel like it, there are many reasons that prompt us to get a gift for our loved ones or even strangers “just because.” It has become so ingrained in Western society that it is almost an automatic reflex or expectation on someone else’s part if there is a particular event to celebrate.

But, if we take out external societal pressures for specific dates and happenings, why is it that we actually get someone a gift? What is it that we are saying to them when we hand over a gift we think they might enjoy?

This piece is going to take a look at why we get people gifts, and why it is more often than not one of the best gestures to offer.

Let’s get into the psychology of presents!

To Make Someone Feel Loved

Very often, the gifts we give to others are essentially our way of saying “we care about you” and “we appreciate you” to our chosen recipient. It does not matter what the gift is, so much as the thought that is behind it and your desired intention. The little details that often fall into gifts, such as what people care about or a small detail that you have noticed can go a long way, and provides a keepsake for them of your love. It also makes the giver feel good too!

To Congratulate Them on Their Achievements 

Achievements are there to be celebrated, whether you do it by yourself or with others! There is nothing to stop you from gifting yourself a little treat when you reach a personal goal of yours, just as there is nothing to stop someone else from congratulating you either. Many people like to give their close friends and family housewarming gifts as a celebration of the next chapter in their life, but also a “well done” to the commitment and sacrifices that take place to make house ownership happen. The same can be said for those who graduate or get a promotion at work, or even the less common achievements that are important to someone but are recognized by close peers. 

To Celebrate With Them

Gifts are well known for being given at events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other reasons to celebrate, such as getting a new job. A gift can cement this occasion and give the recipient a visual representation of the love and support they have from their friends and family. A birthday present is essentially a gift to say “I am glad you are here,” and anniversary gifts for couples can express that “I am so pleased you are both happy, and I want to celebrate your love with you.”

If you are a couple gifting each other for your anniversary, there are so many items you can choose from to make it personal to them, which will express your happiness for getting to spend another year with them.

To Show We Listen

People tell us what they like and what they do not like all of the time—we just have to listen. If your other half mentions a favorite pasta they have, or a friend is keen to see a new movie that is coming out, you can save that information in the memory bank for when the time is right. Showing we listen helps build bonds and connections between our relationships, and giving physical and tangible gift can serve as a reminder of this.

That being said, gifts do not have to be physical objects. You can give the gift of time to someone who needs errands running; you can give the gift of a home-cooked dinner to someone who needs a break; or you can give the gift of a drawn bath when they get through the door after work. These types of actional gifts can show that you have listened to the needs of your loved one and have provided them with some to help. 

To Communicate With Them

While showing love could be seen as the primary reason for someone to give a gift to someone else, we are actually communicating many messages—intentionally or unintentionally. There is a symbolic meaning behind every gift that is given, even if it is just the expectation of an occasion. However, for those whose love language is giving or receiving gifts, you might find that this method can be much more successful than trying to communicate through words. For example, if someone is concerned that they might not be good enough for school, instead of telling them you believe they will be, gift them with a bunch of new school supplies which reinforces that belief. This is just an example, but you will find many when it comes to gifts and communication if you look for them.