As always, context is crucial.
Koen Smets
1

The assumption with wine, chocolates, flowers etc is that the recipient gets some economic utility from it

That’s a big assumption … and, in my experience at least, far from reality.

In my experience, the purpose of a gift is to (re)afirm care/respect/kinship/gratitude/any number of things that have nothing to do with the economic value of the gift in question — it’s the thought that counts.

The utility of the gift lies not in its economic or even … for certain values of the term … ‘social’ value but lies rather in the affirmation that the self is of value … is valued … in, as I said, the (re)affirmation of care/respect/etc. — if someone gives you a gift that has no utility as such but clearly demonstrates that the giver knows you well enough to have chosen something appropriate (albeit of no practical use/value) then that is sufficient to give it all the value it needs.

I think that people might be less appreciative in the way you describe when the sum total of the economic and the social utility is less than the apparent cost of the gift. In other words: if you strongly feel that you would not have wasted that amount of money on that item, the gift will backfire.

The only people I have met who had that transactional a relationship with the process of gift giving and receiving turned out to be Cluster B types.

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