Gift-giving season is just around the corner (OK, let’s face it — it’s here!), and despite supply chain shortages threatening the holidays as we know ’em, you still have to get your shop on.
’Tis the season to be spending
According to Canva, Americans spend an average of $852 on Christmas gifts, and the nation spent a total of $1 trillion in 2019 alone.
As you start making your list and checking it twice, you might want to skim over search data Canva collected regarding U.S. gift-shopping trends.
The company used Google search data, including search trends and keyword volume, to draw the following insights.
To determine the most thoughtful state for gifting, Canva says, “We compared the number of searches for the term ‘personalized gifts,’ implying that the intent was more thoughtful when looking for something personalized.”
New York came out on top, with the following states next in line:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
“We believe a unique and personal gift can mean a huge amount to someone. Despite Manhattan having the reputation as a busy, fast-paced city, New York is easily the most caring state when it comes to picking unique gifts,” says Canva.
When it comes to thoughtfulness, Julian Givi, PhD, assistant professor of marketing at West Virginia University, says his research shows that givers don’t realize that the thought really is what counts.
“Whenever givers and recipients are evaluating the givers’ gifts, givers generally seem to be much harsher critics of the gifts than the recipient. I think that’s because the recipients are feeling like the thoughtful gift shows them that the giver cares about them,” says Givi.
Even though moms might be buying for everyone in the family, the same respect isn’t always given to them!
Canva discovered that moms were the most forgotten family members by measuring the number of searches for “last minute gifts for mom” in December.
“This data shows the general public that, despite moms often being the ones who we look to for support in our hardest times, sometimes we may take that for granted and actually forget about them when it comes to repaying their love and dedication,” says Canva.
For every 100 searches for “last minute gifts for mom,” Canva found only 65 for “last minute gifts for dad” and even fewer for other family members.
“[In] fact, so few that there wasn’t any meaningful data to compare. This showed us that there were 58 percent more searches for moms and, therefore, it was more likely someone would be rushing last minute to find their mom a gift,” Canva says.
The company found a similar pattern around the term “last minute mother’s day gift,” which turned up 97,200 searches for every 64,800 for the father’s day equivalent.
But there might be more to the story and a difference in search intent between parents. For instance, Canva found that one of the most common searches for fathers is “gifts for dad who wants nothing,” with nearly 100,000 searches annually. The company says this hints that dads might be easier to buy for because they don’t have high expectations.
When it comes to mothers, they found that the search intent is much different. “Unique gifts for Mom” is one of the most-searched terms, with 97,200 annual searches, while “gift for Mom from daughter” beats that with 118,800.
Areas with the highest volume of searches for “last minute gifts” included:
- North Carolina
On the other hand, Midwestern states such as Nebraska, Kansas, and the Dakotas were the least likely to wait until the last minute.
“We determined that Midwesterners are the most organized by looking at the states with the lowest number of searches for ‘last minute gifts.’ Both Dakotas and Kansas had no search volume at all for these terms, leading us to believe that these Midwestern states were the most prepared,” says Canva.
While it’s difficult to predict whether the supply chain issues could affect gifting habits this year, Canva says, “[There] is a chance that we could see people buying more gifts earlier in the year (rather than December) to ensure they’re fully prepared for Christmas well in advance.”
Whether your shopping habits fall into any of the above categories or not, the following can help you dominate gift-giving this season.
Make a plan
Making a list of who to buy for and what to buy them can help you save money and time, says Colleen McCreary, financial advocate and chief people, places, and publicity officer at Credit Karma.
“If you end up sticking to your strict plan, that sense of accomplishment and self-control can help with financial stress. A list helps you avoid unnecessary impulse purchases that could cause you to spend beyond your means,” she says.
Start shopping now
If you wait until the last minute to buy your gifts, not only might you not find them, but McCreary says you might also end up spending a huge chunk of cash at once.
“The sooner you start buying, the more you can stretch out your purchases,” she says. “You may even be able to find better deals the further you are from Christmas, especially on days like Cyber Monday, but even before then.
“The potential delays or shortages in certain items may add to your stress (and may cause you to spend more), so the sooner you start, the more you can check off your list.”
Buy sentimental gifts
Givi says his research shows that consumers don’t give enough sentimental gifts.
“We often offer more superficial things or sure things,” he says.
For instance, you might always give your sports-loving brother a jersey or hat from his favorite team or your mom her most-loved bottle of wine.
“These are safer gifts, but recipients are really receptive to sentimental gifts,” says Givi.
Forget about the “wow” factor
Many times, when givers make mistakes, Givi says, it’s because they’re focused on trying to make sure the gift exchange is an impressive experience.
“They try to put a smile on their recipient’s face right when the bow comes off. But recipients, on other hand, tend to be more concerned with the long-run benefit of the gift,” he says. “They might think, ‘Down the road, how will this be useful to me? Will I use it often or will it sit in my closet?’”
He suggests thinking about the long-term use of the gift.
“Maybe it won’t surprise them when they rip off the wrapping paper, but they’ll appreciate it for a long time,” he says.
Your gift will be enough no matter what it is
Even if a gift-giver misses the mark on a present, Givi says, recipients are still happy to receive it. This is especially true of gifts given at random times or on days that are not connected to occasions like birthdays or Christmas.
“We found that when a gift is given out of the blue, recipients are pretty happy, versus on an occasion like Christmas, where there might be higher standards,” he says. “Maybe give something after the holidays to surprise someone out of the blue.”