12 Studies of Christmas: Presents

Christmas presents - a source of delight or a consumerist nuisance? We tore back the wrapping paper by asking 100 people about their experiences of festive gift-giving, gift-receiving, and gift-re-gifting.

Giving or Receiving?

First we wanted to work out whether it really is better to give than receive.

69% of our participants agreed and said they prefer to give presents.

They cited the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction they get when others open their gifts.

Some also said that they felt awkward or guilty when receiving presents (so presumably preferred instead to make others feel like that when receiving their presents?)

i firmly believe it is better to give than to receive. im older and have had many christmas gifts but now there is nothing like seeing a childs face light up when they are amazed that santa knew exactly what gift they wanted. it is truly magical

I enjoy treating my loved ones and think that they deserve to have a lovely gift or two especially after this terrible year

18% of our participants preferred receiving presents, although many clarified that they also liked giving and just preferred receiving more.

They were particularly enamored by the feeling of opening a present that surprises them and by the accompanying knowledge that others care about them.

For some it was just great to get something without paying for it!

I like getting and giving but mostly getting.

I often give presents, and people don't seem appreciated by them unless it's something really expensive. I like the feeling of receiving gifts better.

i like to receive free stuff

A surprising 13% of our respondents were against the present giving tradition altogether.

They wrote thoughtful, often lengthy critiques of the financial pressure and consumerism which gift-giving encourages.

A recurring theme was that, although presents might be fine for children, they were seldom needed by adults and represented consumption for consumption's sake.

I feel like the present giving tradition is outdated and, especially now, just isn't feasible. A lot of people don't have money for presents for others.

I think Christmas is a religious celebration that has been grossly commercialized. I see no value in buying people things they don't need one day every year.

I buy what I want when I want (if I can afford it lol)


Best Present Givers

We also wanted to find out who the best present-givers are in every household.

The most popular gifts come from significant others, who received 22 votes in total. Close behind with 21 votes came mums. In a damning comparison, fathers received only 3 votes for best gift-givers and received 11 votes for worst gift-givers - step it up dads!

3 participants diplomatically voted for everyone, claiming that all presents are equally great. As a counterpoint, we had 1 vote for "Non they are all rubbish tbh".

Generously, 17% of our participants voted for themselves as the best gifters.

Finally, an honourable mention to "Uncle Richard", who received 1 vote. Everyone needs an Uncle Richard.

Opening Times

A frequent point of contention between households, and often between members of the same household, is the optimum time to open presents. Should you hold off until after lunch or tear in as soon as you wake up?

For our participants clearly the early bird catches the worm as a massive 46% open their presents before breakfast. 1 person even went one better and open their presents on Christmas Eve!

Between breakfast and lunch was the second most popular time-slot with 26%, while 8% showed remarkable self-restraint and managed to hold-off until after dinner.



37 of our participants had regifted a present.

The most popular (or is it least popular?) present to regift was alcohol, which received 4 votes. Lynx aftershave giftsets, a classic unwanted Christmas present, had been regifted by 2 participants.

Some of the stranger regiftings were a video camera, given by a participant's stepfather and regifted to their father, and "money", given by a friend, which the participant regifted to "street children". I guess charity really is the spirit of Christmas!

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