If it looks like a pack of rabid raccoons wrapped your holiday presents, you aren’t alone. Even though plenty of us are missing the Martha Stewart-esque wrapping gene, research says that it really doesn’t matter.
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found the quality of the wrapping doesn’t equal a happier recipient. According to the study, the opposite is true.
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The researchers looked at whether the quality of the wrapping provides cues or helps to form expectations about what’s inside. Jessica Rixom, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno and study researcher, said “If it’s wrapped neatly, we set high expectations, and it’s hard for the gift to live up to those expectations.”
Based on the study’s data, the participants have more favorable attitudes towards sloppily-wrapped gifts and significantly higher expectations for the neatly wrapped ones.
Along with neatness of wrapping, the researchers also looked at how the gift-giver themselves influenced the recipient’s perceptions and expectations. As it turns out, recipients may use the neatness of the gift wrap to sense relationship value—or whether the gift-giver is more than just an acquaintance.
So what does this mean for your holiday wrapping game? When it comes to friends and fam, messy is a-okay! If the gift is going to someone who you don’t really know, Rixom says “It may be wise to go the extra mile with wrapping when giving a gift to an acquaintance.”