The typical person who loves buying Christmas gifts is an extroverted, self-confident Christian woman who's bad at planning
Who actually enjoys buying Christmas presents?
The run-up to Christmas is well under way.
Perhaps you are one of those who got the most out of the sales during Black Week, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and loved every second of it. If that's not you, chances are you know someone who loves buying and giving Christmas gifts.
But who exactly are these people?
Almost everyone buys presents at Christmas
Anita Borch is a researcher at the National Institute for Consumer Research (Forbruksforskningsinstituttet SIFO) at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet). She has researched Christmas gifts and Christmas gift trends between 1992 and 2012. During this time, gift trends have changed little.
“Our studies show that between 95 and 98 per cent of the population give at least one present for Christmas,” she says.
And there is no doubt about who buys the most gifts.
Women buy the most Christmas presents
“Women buy the most gifts, partly because they are responsible for the household's Christmas gift-giving,” Borch says.
This can be linked to gender roles.
“Giving Christmas presents can be seen as a type of caring task and family preservation, and this has traditionally been women's responsibility,” she explains.
Women and Christians enjoy giving gifts
More women than men also state that they give Christmas presents out of joy, according to the latest Christmas gift report from 2012 (link in Norwegian).
Whereas men to a greater extent give gifts because they feel like they have to.
Based on this, it is reasonable to assume that women are also some of those who enjoy buying Christmas presents the most, Borch claims.
“Since gift-giving has traditionally been women's responsibility, they have developed better gift-giving skills than men. Perhaps women experience more mastery in Christmas gift shopping than men?” Borch asks.
Christians give out of joy
Svenn Torgersen is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oslo (UiO) and has devoted much of his career to researching personality.
According to Torgersen, women generally enjoy giving more than men do, and thus also like buying Christmas presents more.
“Women take more care of their social network than men do. It is probably fairly common in most families that the women see to it that the gifts are both bought and delivered,” he says.
The Christmas gift report from 2012 also shows that even though the vast majority believe there is too much commercial pressure at Christmas, the vast majority give gifts out of joy, not out of duty.
“More Christians than other religious groups state that they give out of joy,” Borch says.
And few believe that Christmas would be more enjoyable without presents.
The Christmas gift lover is most likely an extrovert
Svenn Torgersen believes that it is a combination of different personality traits that determines how much joy you get from giving gifts.
The first thing on the agenda is how outgoing – or extroverted – you are.
Torgersen explains that extroverts like buying and giving gifts more because they are hungrier for emotional experiences. They like to do things for, and with, other people.
“Extroverts approach you with sparkling eyes and give their gifts, while introverts often carefully place the gift on a table,” Torgersen says.
Jan Ketil Arnulf agrees. He has a doctorate in psychology and is a professor at the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at BI Norwegian Business School. Among other things, he has researched personality and cultural differences in leadership.
He explains that those who are very outgoing and want something to talk about like to give gifts. An extrovert might want to gift a book to be able to discuss it, or gift a dress that they think the recipient would look good in.
“They want to make others feel seen and try to find something to talk about,” Arnulf says.
Another trait that determines how much joy you get from giving gifts is how much you enjoy other people – how ‘philanthropic’ you are.
“Those who are more philanthropic also enjoy giving gifts more, because they take greater pleasure in pleasing others,” Torgersen says.
But if you're an introvert, fear not. You can still be philanthropic.
“You can be introverted and philanthropic. You really want to get someone something, but you ask your wife to deliver the gift,” he says.
It is also an advantage to not be neurotic if you want to maximise the joy of gift-giving.
Don't worry about the gift being wrong
Torgersen also points out that you have to trust yourself a little if you are to get the most pleasure out of buying and giving gifts. So you should try not to be neurotic.
“Those who are neurotic will easily start to worry that their gift will not be well received, or that their gift is not the right one,” he says.
But the non-neurotic will be more confident in their choice, according to Torgersen.
“Those who are not neurotic are sure that they have chosen the best gift. They have high self-esteem, and they enjoy buying gifts more because they are not as concerned and anxious about making mistakes,” Torgersen says.
Not necessarily well-planned
Torgersen believes that those who have planned their entire Christmas shopping in October do not necessarily do so because they enjoy buying Christmas presents.
“You can make the claim that if your personality scores highly on planning, then you do what needs to be done. You make sure that everyone who will be getting a gift, does,” he says.
However, they don't enjoy it that much, according to Torgersen. They do not get pleasure from the gifts themselves, but they get pleasure from fulfilling their duty.
“You don't see a sparkle in the eyes of a planner, unless he is an extrovert,” Torgersen says.
An extroverted love language
Giving gifts is one of the so-called ‘love languages’. Could this explain why some people seem to be far more excited about buying Christmas presents than others?
“Extroverts often give gifts as their love language,” Torgersen says.
This contrasts with introverts, according to Torgersen, who have to force themselves to give gifts because they are shy and embarrassed.
“Extroverts enjoy being in a state of strong emotions and enjoy it when those around them also have strong emotions. On the other hand, introverts become unwell from strong emotions. Extroverts make a big deal out of it, while introverts try to just get on with it,” he says.
Jan Ketil Arnulf at BI says that giving gifts in our society is linked to our desire to give something to create and nurture relationships.
How much you enjoy giving gifts can depend both on how stingy you are and on how diplomatic you are as a person.
“If you score high on pleasantness and have a desire to resolve conflicts in a pleasant way, you will more often indulge in giving gifts,” he says. “And those who are benevolent and generous in order to maintain relationships and resolve conflicts have what we call a diplomatic personality type.”
They see the ‘real Christmas’
As mentioned above, most people believe that there is too much commercial pressure at Christmas. Anita Borch explains that Christmas has two parts.
“The ‘real Christmas’ is about lasting values such as family, children, nostalgia and tradition, while the ‘commercial Christmas’ revolves around shopping frenzies and gluttony,” she says.
Therefore, she believes that those who see the ‘real Christmas’ more clearly than the commercial one, possibly also enjoy shopping for gifts more.
Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.