Some people here and there have told me they think wish lists are a bad idea. According to these folks, they encourage lazy gift-giving; they don't allow the gift-giver to express their own creative ideas and input; they kill the opportunity for surprise; they demonstrate self-centeredness and presumption; they make gift-givers "compete" to gift their loved ones the most expensive/best gifts. I disagree on all counts, and I figure right now is a good time to talk about why I love wish lists.
- Wish Lists help organize gift-giving, especially in situations like weddings or baby showers where you know everyone is interested in getting a gift at the same time and the person's taste in what they are to receive should be very relevant. They help avoid duplicates and cut down on the need to organize returns during a hectic time, and they help people get what they want/need. Yes, this sacrifices personal taste and individual communication with the gift-receiver, but most gift-givers probably want the gift-receiver to not have to personally organize or give input on every potential purchase.
- Wish Lists help inspire other ideas for the gift-giver. Even if you as a gift-giver don't want to be "lazy" and pick something off a list, they can still function as inspiration. For instance, my wish list is actually a collection of stuff I like as well as stuff I want, and it provides the opportunity to cross-reference my list of stuff I collect with stuff I already have. If you see something on a person's list, you learn something about them, and might be more prepared to purchase something with your own judgment now.
- I personally don't think there's anything "lazy" about not being a particularly involved, thoughtful, or creative gift-giver. Those things are nice, but sometimes that's not a person's specialty, and sometimes people stress over not knowing what to give someone for a holiday or occasion. Sometimes they feel like they're giving up if they just purchase a gift card, and this gives those folks the opportunity to choose a specific item that the gift-receiver is sure to like.
- Many Wish Lists contain a large number of items. People who make Wish Lists often use them as a way to organize stuff they want even outside of gift-giving times (I know I do), so "but it won't be a surprise" doesn't hold much water in those instances.
- I don't think Wish Lists are "selfish" at all; many people participate in cultural gift-giving for birthdays, winter holidays, and other special occasions, and I think it's kind of silly to pretend we don't expect to receive anything from our loved ones (unless we're in a family or cultural group that explicitly does not do this). I see no presumption inherent in saying "oh, you're probably going to want to get me something, so here is a list that might make it easier for you."
- I think fixating on gifts being personalized and creative and fashioned without input from the gift-receiver makes the gift-giving experience more about the giver than the receiver. If you truly want a gift-receiver to love the gift and you have a list to help you, that's a good thing. If you're more focused on getting to surprise them or getting a gift that communicates something about yourself, it seems more like the gift-giving is about you succeeding at a process than it is about doing something nice for the person. (If you know what the person wants without help, that's totally fine too; REFUSING to use wish lists because you have a better idea isn't selfish either, but insisting that Wish Lists are tools only selfish people use seems unnecessary.)
- You actually don't have to use a Wish List if you don't like them or don't need to. It just seems kinda crappy to announce that because you don't use them/don't rely on them for gift-giving, they shouldn't exist and/or they communicate unflattering things about those who do.