Most people would prefer that you simply buy them something that they’ve told you they want.
In a study, participants were happier receiving a gift from the wedding list than receiving a surprise gift. Researchers achieved the same scores in the next two studies.
Interestingly, in the final study recipients said they’d appreciate money more than items from the wish-list. Givers fought that argument and said that it is not true.
It looks like people like to get money first, later the item from a wish-list, and lastly at the end, a surprise gift.
Now life looks easier. Right?
Gino, F., and Flynn, F. (2011). Give them what they want: The benefits of explicitness in gift exchange. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47 (5), 915-922 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.015