If you dread wrapping Christmas presents because the results look like the living room floor after everyone has opened their gifts, don’t stress. A University of Nevada study found that the best vibes come from messily wrapped gifts from loved ones, so keep fumbling on!
Seriously, if ever you needed a good reason to stop stressing about your imperfect wrapping skills (you’re in good company – most of us couldn’t wrap neatly to save our lives), this is it.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who could challenge Martha Stewart to a gift-wrapping duel and stand a fighting chance, keep doing your thing. But don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to those minor imperfections. Leave them as they are.
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Your Effort Is Appreciated
One of the authors of the study, Professor Jessica Rixom, PhD, said that, when you give a messily wrapped gift to a loved one, it makes them feel good because they appreciate your effort. What’s more, it makes them focus on your intentions, rather than on the wrapping.
Rixom went on to say that immaculate gift wrap and perfect bows could do you and your gift a disservice by over-hyping it. The contents might not live up to the recipients’ expectations when they see wrapping that looks as though it belongs in a Hallmark Channel family Christmas.
The Element Of Surprise
The study included various experiments that shed light on the relationship between the way that it was wrapped, and the attitude of the recipient. The results were that the best-wrapped presents don’t necessarily add more joy to the moment.
The group that conducted the study used ‘expectation disconfirmation theory’ to explain how a beautiful wrapping job creates higher expectations. Unfortunately, if the gift isn’t quite as big, expensive, exciting, or luxe as the wrapping implied, it can also lead to disappointment.
Messy wrapping, however, makes the recipient lower their expectations. This can end up highlighting just how fabulous the gift is, making it even more of a surprise for them.
There’s a catch, though. The findings on the good vibes that come with messily wrapped gifts indicate that it usually happens when the gift comes from a loved one, such as a family member or friend. If the gift is for an acquaintance, you may want to use those fancy gift-wrapping ideas after all.
Acquaintances Like Nice Wrapping
Rixom explained that we use wrapping to indicate something about the gift when it’s intended for a loved one. We don’t need to give cues about the nature of the relationship, because we already know where we’re at with that person. When it comes to acquaintances, our relationships tend to be somewhat ambiguous.
In that case, we use wrapping to convey a message about the relationship. For example, if the acquaintance is someone we appreciate, we choose good-quality gift wrap, and we put care and effort into wrapping it. Before they’ve even unwrapped your gift, the wrapping is a clue that you value the relationship, possibly more than they realised – and that could lead them to greater enjoyment of your gift.
Ultimately, Rixom said that you should think about the person for whom you made or purchased the gift before you start wrapping it. If the gift is for a friend, you don’t need to stress too much about getting it perfect. If it’s for an acquaintance, let them know you value the relationship by putting time and effort into wrapping their gift neatly, if not creatively. That way, you’ll make the moment all the more special for your family, friends, and acquaintances.
So if you’re stressing over how to make your gift wrapping not look shoddy this year, keep in mind who it’s for before getting yourself in a last-minute festive tizzy. Someone you don’t know all too well, like a work colleague for example, will be looking out for those crisp neat edges and colourful curling ribbon.
Mum and Dad, on the other hand, will be all the more grateful for your haphazardly wrapped gift that looks like the dog got hold of it.