Friday, December 09, 2011

Understanding the Value of a Christmas Gift

For many shoppers the value of a Christmas gift is what they spent on the gift, but the true value of an items is in the benefits, use, enjoyment and need of the Christmas gift.

Please note there are benefits to all types of Christmas gifts, but today I am challenging you to think about your Gift’s Return on Investment! Yes, each gift has a  value and a return on your investment

To be honest sometimes it doesn’t matter what the gift’s return on investment because you want to buy get that gift, however when times are tough it’s I think it is worth considering each purchase. So with that said, let review a few Christmas Gifts I have seen online.

Soft Pretzel Maker
This gift seems like a fun and think now you can make soft pretzels anytime you want for under $30, it seems like the perfect family gift right? Well unlike waffles, cupcakes or bread, I can’t ever remembering wanting to make soft pretzels at home.

For me soft pretzels tend to be a ballpark, boardwalk or mall snack and not something I would make weekly or even monthly. Plus you have the hidden cost of buying the mix to make the pretzels, which cost $15 on Amazon.

Here is the reality:
Unless you have mustard loving soft pretzel eaters who store soft pretzels in their freezer, this gift is a dud.

The Soft Pretzel Maker cost about $30, get used 2 or 3 times, so the ROI per use is $10 - $15. Gets moved to the back of the cabinet because of lack of use and will be a yard sale favorite in the spring of 2013.

Trendy Toy vs. Classic Toy
Trendy Toys tend to be one hit wonders and often aren’t toys that get played with for more than 1 – 3 months. Kids want them because other kids want them and not always because they are fun but just because they are popular; Zhu Zhu would be an example.

While I am sure that a little movable hamster going through a tunnel is exciting for a few afternoons it is hardly one to keep your imagination for months on end. Hence if you paid $40 at the time of Zhu Zhu’s peak for just one hamster your cost per use most likely ran about $2 - $4 and your child tossed it in the toy box by February.

Trendy toys are pricy and feed the instant gratification society, but leave many kids boring and looking for the next “I want” item as soon as they are bored with it.

Classic Toys however can be pricey too, but often get used months and sometimes years after the gift is given. Examples include Barbies, general Lego’s, Crayons, Checkers or Chess, Monopoly, Life and Sorry. Plus these gifts can nurture role playing, problem solving and strategy skills so there is a larger value to these gifts.

Classic toys over time tend to get used more often and the average cost per use tends to run under $1, which is quite a bargain.

While it may appear that I favor old fashion gifts, don’t get me wrong there are gadgets gifts and unique gifts that offer great value to the recipient.

Odd Gifts – The Value Depends on the User
One gift that stands out is the Pajama Warming Pouch that we listed on our UnusualGift List of 2011. (Which is currently, sold out until January)

In most cases this gift seen to be a waste of money but for someone without an electric blanket and loves the idea of toasty pajamas on a chilly night, it might be the perfect gift to send them off into a cozy slumber.

I can think of several family members that would love this gift and use it for two or three months out of the year. So the cost per use drops to less than a $1 per use and the cozy happiness they get putting on pajamas is an added bonus.

However sending this gift to a relative or friend that never complains about the cold, would then be money wasted on a gift.

I could go on with more examples of a gifts return on investment but I would rather share some of my favorite ideas with high gift ROIs.

Give an Experience: Concert, Show, Art Class, Dance Lessons
As long as they have shown some interest in the activity, this gift gives great memories.

Musical Instruments and Sport Equipment
Yes, I am old school and love the idea that goes with developing the skills to play music or just get outside and play sports. These gifts last years, it is hard to go wrong.

And as for Clothing
Best value in clothes are timeless classics; a quality polo, a well made cable sweater and articles with designs that aren’t trend or seasonal. These items can be worn for years and still garner compliments. Hence the value of these items over time comes out to $1 or less per wear.

Flashy print dresses, gold embellished t-shirts and frayed garments often have limited wear because the owner doesn’t want to be seen in them to often. Since people tend to wear these items less then 10 times, the cost per use can run over $10 and for me that is just too much.

While the goal is not to over think every gift purchase, you may want to spend some time reflecting on your gift’s Return on Investment and if you do, I believe you’ll have some amazing gifts under the tree this year.

Happy Holidays

Rus J - The Gift Guy
Gift Idea Center for Christmas Gifts, Gift Exchange Gifts, Unusual Gifts and Holiday Fun!
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