Best in category

If you want to please someone with a gift, it’s unlikely that you’ll succeed by buying them a pretty good version of the item in question, even if it’s a great value.

Better, the research suggests that you’ll do better to overpay for something in a cheaper category, where it’s obviously the best in the world.

This might seem like a hack of the irrational nature of humanity, but if we consider what it means to have a gift exchange, it makes perfect sense. A gift is not a transfer of monetary value.

Along the same lines, a monetary Christmas bonus, while rational, might not be as appreciated as something of lower value, precisely because thoughtfulness is difficult to put a price tag on.