The Christmas holidays are here, and with them, the ubiquitous gift exchanges. You see them at work, friends groups, and they always tell you how much to spend on a gift. “Get a gift for $x or less”.
That statement of how much to spend has always confused me. What if something is $x + 1 ? If I find it on sale, do I go by the original value or the amount I paid? And, in the U.S., is that before tax or after tax?
But now I think I’ve worked it out. Mind you, this is what I’ve gleaned from my social circles. YMMV.
When they say “don’t spend more than x“, that doesn’t mean that the amount you spend should be less than or equal to x. In fact, in most cases, you should spend more than x. But there’s not some formula, like “spend 20% more than the stated amount”. It’s more complex than that.
They look like formulae, but they’re more like categories. A “less than $15” gift is a category of gift. A “no more than $50” gift is another category. There’s not a “less than $17.50 gift” because they’re categories, not numbers.
So how do you use this information? If you’re looking at a mediocre gift below x and a cool one above x, get the cool one. If you find an OK gift right at x, keep looking. If you find the perfect gift right around x, add a small box of chocolates or something. Consider the value of the gift, not its price, combined with how cool it is to be opened in front of others
So this year, I’m going to think of the number as a category, but still try to spend at least that much. Hopefully that will get my mind off the price of the gifts so I can pay attention to the right thing — having a pleasant time with my friends.