Finding the perfect birthday gift can put a person under a lot of pressure, but making sure everyone on your list is satisfied during the holidays can be even trickier. That's why the latest podcast from the British Psychological Society reaches out to experts who reveal what gifts work, why some fail, and how to avoid awkward situations during the exchange.

"We could get it wrong when we're trying to give a gift that reflects the other person," Lara Aknin, a psychology professor from Simon Fraser University, said on the podcast. "But the flipside is that we might actually feel closer when we give gifts that reflect ourselves, because essentially you can think of it as offering a piece of yourself to the recipient to share your interests and passions. We know from past research that acts of self-disclosure can bring people closer together and can make the person sharing things about themselves feel good."

In one study, Aknin explained, researchers asked participants to give an iTunes song as a gift to either a friend or family member. Half of the group was assigned to give a song that either reflected themselves and the other half had to give a song that reflected the receiver. Those who received a song that reflected the giver said they felt closer to that person compared to those who received a song that reflected themselves.

However, giving gifts that reflect you personally might not always work. If every gift you give is a reflection of who you are, it may demonstrate a disinterest in the recipient and even seem like an expression of narcissism; balance is key.

In another study, researchers asked a group of participants to either give a gift that the other person actually wants based on a wish list or give a surprise gift. Ironically, receivers thought when they were given a gift off of their wish list that it was more thoughtful than when the gift was a surprise. Even though wish lists require less thought, the recipient grew closer to the giver compared to those who put thought into giving a surprise gift.

"I think gift giving is a way that people often either reaffirm the bonds that they have with others or attempt to forge stronger bonds with people," consumer psychology expert Lisa Cavanaugh, a professor at the University of South California’s Marshall School of Business, said in the interview. "It's an opportunity to strengthen our social ties."

But what happens when a gift giving exchange fails? People’s gut reaction is to thank them for the gesture of the gift exchange instead of the gift itself. Giving the social minimum, which is to say "thank you," is palpable and difficult to overcome. If the minimum isn't exchanged, the giver could grow to resent the receiver.

Oftentimes the latter exchange happens when we give gifts to people we don't know as well, such as a coworker or neighbor. It's more of a guessing game that comes with a greater risk of failure. It's harder to see through the recipient's eyes and predict how they're going to receive it. The experts ultimately concluded those who are successful at effective perspective-taking reap the greatest reward from giving gifts.