First, try to pick only smart one. Try to guess which one of the following will get a higher assessment by recipient. 1) IPOD, 2) IPOD + Music download coupon. According to the study published in the journal of consumer research, 92% of givers gave a higher rating on gifts 2) IPOD + Music download coupon. However, the recipient gave a more value on 1) IPOD. The researchers explained that recipients will assess the gift by the average value of good stuff and cheap stuff.
Second, recipients will not only appreciate on expensive gifts. Let's take a look at the example from Journal of experimental social psychology 2008. Researchers let 232 of adult evaluate their birthday gift they had received or gave to someone else in their life. Gift range was varied from over $1300 furniture to a T-shirt. As a result, It turned out to be the givers have thought recipients would have appreciate more for the expensive gift.
However, the recipient's thought was different. They actually preferred the stuff that they really wanted, or specially significant to them. Let's take a look at recent survey from 33 of engaged men and women. Men thought their fiancée would like to have more expensive engagement ring, but from women's point of view, it showed that price didn't make big difference of satisfaction.
Researchers say that people don't prefer expensive gift, because it gives them a pressure that they have to pay back later with a equivalent value of the gift. There is another study shows the difference between men and women. Men gets pressure on expensive gift but women tend to accept the gift and enjoy the moment without any pressure. (Evaluation by Professor Todd B.Kashdan from George Mason University)
Third, According to the paper from Social economics journal 2009, the price of the gift is always underrated. The researchers let 105 of adult estimate the price of the gift they have received, and then showed the actual price through receipts later on. As s result, the price recipients themselves would have paid was 7% lower compared to the actual price.
The value of the gift card was 14% lower than others. In particular, accessories such as purse or belt and books, kitchen utensils, musical instruments, was 25% lower. Men and young people evaluated less than the real value, women and older people tend to evaluated more closely to the actual price. Why are women belong to the group that relatively overate the value of the gifts they received. As the researchers estimated, women are better at notifying what they want to receive for gift.
Fourth, Ask before you buy a gift. Scholars' who studies psychology of present common advice is to "ask". People prefer to ask them what they want for a gift. However, specifying a certain gift can be unnerving. It would be good to pick one from "interested items" list.
If you are in a situation that you cannot ask, It is good to write a note clearly indicate that why you have picked the gift and put the note inside the gift box, because people don't have a magical ability to perceive the great meaning of the gift.
Links below are some good reviews on products that are popular as a gift, and more stuffs are available, so please check them out.