Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas and Other Holidays: Ethical Gifts vs. Gift Baskets

spa gift basket

Certainly, not everyone on your gift list would be happy with a gift to a good cause - but still, one recent study reporting that ethical gifts might offend the recipients might be misleading.

In that study, women got one of two gifts that they were told came from their husbands. Those who received a donation to Oxfam rather than a spa basket filled soaps and body creams were less than thrilled. (However, women who got the Oxfam gift from their children were not displeased.) Note that this study does nothing to refute the idea that a donation-type gift is a good idea for those you know less well than a close family member!

Having read about this study, my ears perked up when it was featured on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. And I was especially delighted to hear this exchange:

Paula Poundstone:
You know, if someone gave me a basket of creams, I wouldn't be that happy, frankly.
Peter Sagal:
Yeah, I don't know. I mean as a recycler, I have a problem with the whole basket concept. You've got the plastic outside that I don't think it recycles. You've got the straw stuff that I don't know where the hell to put it, and you've got the basket. What do you do with the basket? Not to mention that I don't really want creams, but that's secondary.
Roxanne Roberts:
But you can reuse the basket!
Reuse it for what? Tisketing?
But don't you at least feel a certain satisfaction that you got the useless basket rather than some damn poor needy person?
Yeah, you're absolutely right. Nothing would annoy a starving refugee more than a cream basket.
If you want to hear the full story, you can download the December 19 episode of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, for free, from the iTunes Store in the podcast section. It starts at about 8:17 into the show.

[Photo from Wildflower Baskets and Gifts]


Julie Bestry said...

I was listening to that "Wait, Wait", having already read about the research, but Paula's comment about "Tisketing" completely cracked me up. Thanks for letting me revisit (and laugh again) a few days later.

And while I could go either way on creams, or baskets, I'll say straight away that a donation in one's name is lovely, but it is not, in any way, a gift. nyah!

Jeri Dansky said...

I guess we all know what NOT to get Julie for her birthday! But truly, some people are delighted with the "gift" of a donation.

Anna said...

I got a pretty basket, it was a nice gift from a relative abroad, but what can I do with the basket itself now?

JustGail said...

Anna - I guess if you don't tisket, you could take up tasketing?
Anyway, a basket of creams - I think a donation to a cause *I support* would be more appreciated than a basket of creams because -
1. they most likely wouldn't be creams I use
2. it's rare that those "basket of ..." are given in a basket that is truely useful. The ones I've seen are more suited to putting fake plants in, too light-weight and flimsy to be of much use for storage.

Jeri Dansky said...

Anna, depending on the size and construction of the basket - see the note from JustGail - a basket can be used to store all sorts of things.

But if it doesn't work as storage for you, consider just giving it away to a thrift store - or giving it away on Freecycle.

JustGail, thanks for writing. Your comments, along with Julie's, show how each gift recipient has different preferences.