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Although you’re likely not some sort of festive cheapskate like George Costanza, if you’re hoping to have your Christmas generosity appreciated this holiday season, you may want to reconsider giving away charity donation gifts.

Although “a donation has been made in your name” gifts are both socially conscious and well-intentioned, a recent study at the University of Southern California has shown that those presents aren’t welcomed as fondly as you might think. Especially by casual friends.

In the study, a group of people were asked to select either a traditional gift (i.e. a travel mug) or a donation gift (a donation to Oxfam, for instance) which they were then instructed to give as a present to a friend.

Reactionary results showed that when donation gifts were given to a close friend, they were appreciated as much as the gift-giver expected them to be. But when they were given to a casual friend, they were not appreciated nearly as much as the gift giver had predicted. Bah humbug!

In layman’s terms, if you’re giving a gift to a best friend or family member, you have a good idea about what they like and how they will react to it. That’s not the case with less intimate friends. So if you give a co-worker a card that says you gave their gift to a charity, odds are they won’t be too impressed.

The moral of the story is, if you want to have your present appreciated, don’t give a charity donation gift unless you know the person very well. (If you know ’em well, here are plenty of options that they’ll like.)

festivus