An economist has urged consumers to curb the number of Christmas presents they buy.

He says gift-giving should be limited to children and those you are in "frequent contact with", adding that we enjoy getting presents least from our in laws and grandparents because we hardly see them.

Joel Waldfogel, a professor at the University ofPennsylvania, speaking at a 'Scroogenomics' lecture at the London School of Economics this month, said people who receive presents often do not value them as much as the giver thinks.

His research reveals recipients typically place 20% less value on presents they receive compared to what they get for items they buy for themselves.

Grandma does badly

He said: "When someone gets a present they are already at a disadvantage, particularly when it's come from an in law or a grandparent. Grandma does not do well because she does not see you very often.

"The solution is not to stop giving gifts as most people get joy from doing so. The solution is to keep giving presents to those you are in frequent contact, especially children."

Waldfogel, author of a book called Scroogenomics, said the best type of present is a gift voucher as it is not as awkward as giving cash and allows the user to buy whatever they like.

More than three quarters of MoneySavers think we should stop giving Christmas presents to friends and colleagues, according to a poll on this site earlier this month (see the Curb Christmas present buying MSE News story).

Too expensive

The news comes after creator Martin Lewis launched a six-point manifesto to limit Christmas present buying to stop unwanted gifts and to prevent people misprioritising spending (see Martin's Time to ban Xmas presents? blog).

He says many simply cannot afford to continue buying presents, especially during the recession.

Martin states: "Add it all together and I know there's one word for our logic – Scrooge. Yet the aim isn't to stop festive fun, but to challenge the habitual nature of gift giving.

"Many see it as a chore. Is that really the point, does that help our pockets or our souls?

"Spending time physically making things others appreciate, or even just being more considerate, is perhaps more in keeping with the real spirit of the winter festivals.

"Done right, gifts can create real warmth, but it's time to realise that, done wrong, it can hurt more than it helps. Perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present."

Further reading/Key links

Time to ban Xmas presents? Martin's Xmas blog
Cut costs: High Street Haggling, Cheap Online Shopping