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Opinion
Teresa Ghilarducci

The Perfect Christmas Gift? Cash.

If you don’t mind wasting your money on something the recipient will value less than you do, go ahead and buy it. But those “deadweight losses” add up.

Enjoy the lights and give the gift of cash.

Enjoy the lights and give the gift of cash.

Photographer: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

If you still haven’t gotten a holiday gift for someone — or anyone over the age of 12, for that matter — you’ve come to the right place. As an economist, I can assure you that not only have you done the responsible, even thoughtful, thing. It may also not be too late to make the right decision.

Every holiday season, people ask me how much to spend on gifts. The most important question is what is a gift and how much is it worth.