Gifts as a social signal

Gifts can sometimes be unintentionally revealing. Lara recalls how, when her marriage broke up (due to her husband having an affair), her parents-in-law – with whom she was very close – warmly insisted that they would remain firm friends with her.

“And they have,” says Lara. “But at Christmas that year, instead of sending a gift as they’d always done, this time they sent just a card. I felt like I’d been demoted somehow.”

As with the husband who forgot a gift for his wife, our gift-giving practises can give us away sometimes.

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