Rice U. expert: ’Tis the season to give more with less


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice U. expert: ’Tis the season to give more with less

HOUSTON – (Dec. 8, 2016) – Gift giving can be fun and rewarding, but it can also create anxiety about whether the selected present will please someone the giver cares about. People can actually give more by giving with less, according to a psychology and management expert at Rice’s University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Credit: shutterstock.com/Rice University

Credit: shutterstock.com/Rice University

Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management, said people often miss the mark during the holiday season. Economists estimate that between 10 and 30 percent of the value of a holiday gift is lost due to a mismatch between what people buy and what the gift receiver wants. “To compensate, we buy the biggest, most expensive gift we can afford,” he said.

Sonenshein has written an op-ed on the topic of gift giving and receiving and is available to comment.

“In my forthcoming book, ‘Stretch,’ I explain that we are often distracted and held back by wants and wishes for more — more time for projects, more choices to pick from and more money to spend,” he said. “As alluring as this thinking is, it misses an important point: What we do with our existing resources usually matters a lot more than what we actually have.

“Let’s take a different approach this year: Give more by giving with less. Try cutting your gift budget in half. Expressing real affection without spending as much requires reflecting on why we care about or admire someone. That’s the true thoughtfulness that has nothing to do with the price of a present.”

Sonenshein teaches courses in organizational behavior, change and leadership.

To schedule an interview with Sonenshein, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Follow Scott Sonenshein on Twitter @ScottSonenshein.

Follow the Jones Graduate School of Business on Twitter @Rice_Biz.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Sonenshein bio: www.scottsonenshein.com.

Jones Graduate School of Business: http://business.rice.edu.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.