How To Avoid Mindless Gift Buying

Impulse buying is a phenomenon that plagues most of us - it urges us to buy items we would most likely regret purchasing after. In the midst of the hectic Christmas season, let’s be mindful of this tendency and avoid it; the best way is to

  1. Understand the phenomenon.

  2. Apply the learning to a practical everyday shopping situations.

  3. Then look for alternatives.

The occurrence is frequent and widespread, with both internal and external factors encouraging us to impulse buy.

How To Avoid Mindless Gift Buying

Influences to impulse buying include Lack of Control, Stress Reaction, and Absorption (Youn & Faber, 2000).

  • Lack of control commonly deals with “playing things by ear” and poor planning, so scheduling and organizing purchases by writing on your planner, for example, before you shop would be a good way to reflect and control.

  • When a person is stressed or experiencing negative emotions, he or she results to “quick fixes” like impulse purchases, so having a cost-free, go-to mood booster like going for a quick run, would be a better route.

  • Absorption plays a role in how people respond to environmental and sensory cues. Marketer-created environmental and product factors including colors, smells, sounds, textures, and locations can increase the likelihood of engaging in impulse buying. (Eroglu and Machleit 1993; Mitchell 1994) So don’t buy into it - even if your favorite insta-influencers looks amazing in it, or tells you that you have to have it, ask yourself if it’s something your recipients would truly love and cherish for a long time.

Here are some tips to follow to avoid mindless gift buying.

1. Stay away from stores that sell low quality products

Absorption deals with how a buyer responds to his or her environment. Some shops emotionally entice and provide stimuli (colors, sounds, promotions etc.) that make buyers feel like they have to purchase an item. Oftentimes they get away with the trickery without notice! When you enter a store that caters to a vibe or aesthetic that you are particularly drawn to, you find yourself following a feeling when you buy something instead of your own rational and practical mindfulness. Examples are when you enter a store like Daiso or Miniso and you see all the cute fun items they have for sale at super low prices.

Internal and external factors work hand in hand to give you a high when you buy something impulsively, only to make you realize later on that what you have purchased is not only impractical, but more often than not also harmful to the environment and unsustainable! When buying gifts this Christmas season, it is important to keep in mind that cute and cheap things easily sway buyers; a little self-reflection and a harder look into sustainable gift-buying can and will go a long way.

How to Avoid Mindless Gift Buying

2. It’s the thought that counts

When giving gifts to loved ones, try to picture them using the item you gave them. Think to yourself, will this person really enjoy this gift? How long will they be able to use it? And the most important question we often forget to ask, when they are done with this gift, will the materials decompose in a way that is good for the environment? It also helps if you really know the person you are giving this gift to. A tip is to make sure whatever item you’re getting them is inclined to the person’s hobbies or interests, to ensure it’s something they’ll enjoy and be able to use for a long time.

3. Giving food as gifts

Another tip to avoid mindless gift buying, is to get them food. During the Christmas season, you’ll find lots of Christmas bazaars, or boutiques in every corner of the city. In these affairs you will find stalls selling different kinds of food that are wrapped with pretty ribbons ready to be given as gifts. It can be anything from delicious pastries, to beautifully arranged fruit baskets. The beauty of giving food as gifts is there’s minimal waste, since the gift itself will be eaten! In my experience, when I receive food as gifts, it’s never disappointing because during the busy holiday season, it’s great to have little yummy treats to snack on throughout the day. But be wary of things that look or sounds delicious, but aren’t in reality. Ask for a taste test before you use your hard earned cash to buy food for your loved ones.

4. Giving eco-friendly presents

Shampoo bars, metal straws, wooden toothbrushes, reusable bags — just some of the eco friendly items that have been slowly rising in our market today. These make great gifts because not only are they useful, they’re great for the environment. This may also inspire the receiver to start a more eco-friendly life, to be more economically conscious. When I first got my first wooden toothbrush given to me by a friend, it really got me into using more products that help reduce the production of plastic. It didn’t feel that different to a regular plastic toothbrush, plus knowing that it was made of a material that would decompose a lot faster than plastic really sold me to the idea of using it. Reused wrapping materials will best fit the eco-friendly gifts!


The next time you go to a store that sells cheap items, before you buy, ask yourself: What are my reasons for this item? Will the item be useful for a long duration of time? Is it sustainable? Is it harmful to the environment? It goes without saying that things you know for a fact are sturdier or of higher quality cost more than promo items. If the quality stuff prove to be way over your budget, however, you do not need to turn to impulse buying when in promo stores, because you always have the option to make gifts yourself! It will not only cost less, but the human aspect in what you are giving will be more prevalent; that way, your emotions are more in line with rational and heartfelt work and not wasted on impulse buying.

Sources: Impulse buying: its relation to personality traits and cues

images: hautestock

How to avoid mindless gift buying