In "The Necklace," Monsieur Loisel makes sacrifices over and over for his wife; in "The Gift of the Magi," Jim Young makes a sacrifice only once. It is for this reason that M. Loisel can be seen as a more self-sacrificial character than Young. M. Loisel must work to procure an invitation to a fancy ball, but then his ungrateful wife is upset because she has nothing to wear. Though he went to "awful trouble to get" the invitation, he then has to give her the four hundred francs he had been "laying aside" to "treat himself to a little shooting next summer" with a new gun. Nonetheless, he gives up the money so that she might have a beautiful dress to wear to the party. Then, when his wife loses the necklace she'd borrowed from her friend, he must devote the next decade of his life to paying off the debt they take on to replace the necklace. He gives up his time, his money, his home, his servant, and his dignity for his wife. And then, in the end, his wife learns that the "diamond" necklace was actually a fake!
Jim Young, on the other hand, certainly does make a sacrifice for his wife, Della, when he sells his heirloom gold watch in order to purchase a nice Christmas gift for her, but it is only one such sacrifice, compared to M. Loisel's many. The narrator of "Magi" declares that Jim and Della are "the wisest," even wiser than the three original wise men. However, M. Loisel is truly the most self-sacrificing character in the two stories because of how much he gave up for his wife.