No Presents For Adults?

From November 21, 2017

An article published today says we shouldn’t give gifts to adults, and here’s why.


Waste: Gifts are a waste of resources

Americans will spend about $967 on average this holiday season, putting the country on track to spend more than $678.8 billion in total, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation.

“It can start to feel like it’s a sort of arms race around spending,” said Jezer-Morton.

And she’s not alone. A 2016 ING study found that 70% of Americans feel that Christmas is too focused on spending, yet we’re expected to spend even more this year.

Economists, such as University of Minnesota professor Joel Waldfogel, say gift giving just isn’t an effective way to part with your money.

“We’re making guesses about what other people need or want or like,” said Waldfogel, author of Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays. “If I go out and spend $50 on you, I may buy something that’s worth nothing to you.”

In fact, Americans waste $9.5 billion, or $71 per person, on unwanted gifts each year, according to a study from

Even for gifts people want, Waldfogel said recipients underestimate a gift’s monetary value by about 18%.

That percentage multiplied by the amount Americans spend on gifts each year represents how much money “we’re basically lighting on fire through the process of gift giving,” Waldfogel said.

If an unwanted gift can’t be returned, it might end up collecting dust in a closet or —worse — tossed in a landfill.

During the holiday season, Americans produce 25% more household waste, or about 1 million extra tons, according to the EPA. This includes not only unwanted gifts, but also packaging materials like bubble wrap and wrapping paper, much of which can’t be recycled.

Holiday shopping: You’re wasting money on unwanted gifts

Stress: Holiday shopping can literally feel like a marathon

The holiday season not only puts a dent in your wallet, but it can also be a serious source of stress.

A study by eBay found that holiday shopping can be as stressful as running a marathon. Shoppers in London were fatigued by the 32-minute mark and their heart rates increased 33% during the experiment.

Stefanie O’Connell, a millennial financial expert and author of The Broke and Beautiful Life, said when her budget was tight, she “felt constantly stressed and overwhelmed and even a little bit resentful of the sense of obligation that came with gift giving.”

Now, O’Connell said her family decides each year whether they’ll exchange gifts, pool their resources for a group gift, or opt out of giving altogether.

“It’s a point of discussion each year,” she said.