As Christmas creeps its way into our lives, so too does an influx of pictures on Instagram featuring fancy Christmas trees with piles of perfectly wrapped presents sitting underneath.
But if wrapping presents isn’t your forte, we’ve got some good news for you.
Turns out, receiving a gift with unappealing wrapping makes you happier, says a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology called, Presentation Matters: The Effect of Wrapping Neatness on Gift Attitudes.
Music to our ears
Researchers from the University of Nevada used Expectation Disconfirmation Theory to find out if different wrapping styles affected the gift-receiving experience. And according to their results, it absolutely did.
Co-author of the study, Jessica Rixom told Today that it all comes down to people’s expectations.
“Based on participants’ answers to various questions, it suggested that the reason why this happens is that the neat wrapping sets higher expectations for the gift inside, which makes it harder for the gifts to live up to those expectations,” Jessica said.
“When the gifts are unwrapped, the recipient is a bit disappointed whereas when it’s wrapped sloppily, expectations are lower so the gift is more of a pleasant surprise.”
The sad news is that this theory only applies when giving gifts to family and loved ones. When giving a present to someone you don’t know as well, it’s better to put in a bit of effort with the wrapping.
“With friends, we typically know where the relationship stands so when we receive the gift, we use the wrapping as a cue or signal about the gift inside. But with acquaintances, there is more ambiguity around the relationship so we use the wrapping as a cue for how the gift giver sees the relationship, rather than as a signal about the gift inside,” Jessica said.
So why the study? Perhaps the question everyone should be asking is why not? Still, Jessica said she came up with the idea after she noticed her friend’s “messy” wrapping.
“…I learned how to wrap very neatly with crisp edges, just the right amount of paper, etcetera. I started wrapping my own gifts that way and many years later, when wrapping presents with a friend, I noticed that all of the gifts in my pile were neat while all of theirs were messy, even though they were trying.
“This made us wonder whether the way the gift was wrapped would have any influence on how the gifts themselves were perceived and that’s how it started.”
The crappier the better
So before you sit up until midnight on Christmas Eve wrapping presents, remember, the crappier job you do, the happier your kids will be.