Christmas gift confessions 2018

Americans drop almost $13 billion on unwanted presents.

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Santa shooshing

The holidays are a time of joy and happiness. But according to latest data, more than half of us will face another feeling: disappointment. Specifically, the disappointment of receiving an unwanted gift.

Some 56% of Americans surveyed admit to getting at least one unwanted gift over the holidays, totaling roughly 142 million American adults. They say it’s the thought that counts. But if you wind up giving someone a present they don’t want, how much thought did you actually put into it?

What not to buy for someone in 2018

You know when it’s an unwanted present: Your loved one opens it, smiles, stares at you wide-eyed and gleefully says, “You shouldn’t have … ”

To avoid the awkwardness in 2018, consider steering clear of clothing and accessories. Of those surveyed, 34% said that clothing and accessories were gifts they least like to receive, followed by household items (18%) and cosmetics and fragrances (14%).

Gift type Dislike %
Clothing and accessories 34%
Household items 18%
Cosmetic and Fragrances 14%
Food and/or drink 9%
Technology 9%
Music 8%
Literature 7%
Other 2%

Because our survey allowed participants to select more than one option, percentages do not equal 100. They are based on responses, not on unique participants.

Who gives the worst gifts?

Friends are the biggest culprits of unwanted gifts. More than 1 in 4 adults (27%) state that their friends give them the worst presents. Coming in second place are the ones who should know us best, with 16% of adults stating their parents give the worst gifts.

Surprisingly our better halves aren’t the best at gifting, considering 11% of adults reported their partners give the worst gifts. Following partners are mother or father-in-law (10%), son and daughters (6%) and bosses (5%).

Maybe stop giving your old man socks — unless he asks for them

When it comes to who’s getting those unwanted gifts, the sexes are split evenly: 56% of both men and women say they receive at least one unwanted gift during the holidays.

However, men receive 67% more unwanted gifts on average than women each holiday season. So maybe rethink that tie or value pair of socks.

Gen Y really doesn’t like your gifts

Gen Y receives far and away more unwanted gifts than any other generation, with 68% saying they’ve received a gift they didn’t want. They’re followed by Gen X (58%) and baby boomers (41%).

Gen Y also has the most spent on them for unwanted gifts, averaging a whopping $124.30 each. That’s about 1.5 times more than what’s spent on Gen Xers ($82.40) and roughly 3 times more than what’s spent on boomers ($39.20).

Would you give a bad gift on purpose?

Interestingly, we found that 15% of Americans — roughly 38 million people — have deliberately bought a present knowing their recipient wouldn’t like it. Men are about four times more likely than women to intentionally gift a bad present, with 25% of men surveyed saying they’d done it in the past, versus about 6% of women.

Of the generations, Gen Xers are most likely to knowingly give bad gifts, with 22% admitting they’ve done so. That’s only slightly higher than the rate for Gen Y (18%) but 11 times higher than the rate for boomers (2%).

Those with money to burn — people earning $100,000 to $150,000 — are most likely to buy spiteful presents, with 28% saying they’d done so. That’s almost three times higher than those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 (11%) and almost five times higher than those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 (6%).

What happens to all the unwanted gifts?

What are people doing with their unwanted gifts? Open the nearest closet or check under the bed, and you’re bound to find out.

According to our survey, 29% of people just hold on to the unwanted item, followed by 22% who exchange the gift and another 22% who plan to regift it.

What people are doing with unwanted gifts Dislike %
Keep them 29%
Give them to someone else 22%
Exchange them 22%
Sell them 10%
Give them back 8%
Throw them away 6%
Other 2%

Because our survey allowed participants to select more than one option, percentages do not equal 100. They are based on responses, not on unique participants.

Buying the boss a present is an issue

When asked who you’d least like to buy a present for, a whopping 30% say it’s their boss, followed by mothers-in-law (12%) and moms (10%).

Who would you like to avoid presents for? %
Boss 30%
Mother-in-law 12%
Mom 10%
Friend 9%
Partner 9%
Other 7%
Dad 5%
Son 5%
Father-in-law 5%
Daughter 4%
Grandparent 2%

What do you enjoy most about the holidays?

It’s heartwarming to hear that more than half of Americans (52%) say spending time with family is their favorite part of the holidays. Time with family is followed by a festive atmosphere (13%) and getting time off work (12%).

What do you enjoy most about the holidays? %
Spending time with family 52%
Festive atmosphere 13%
Time off work 12%
Food 11%
Presents 5%
There is nothing I like about the holidays 5%
Other 2%
Getting drunk 1%

Past Christmas Confessions

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Nicole Gallina
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