Magic of Christmas Lost As Parents Buy 'Gifts To Order'

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A new study shows that magical feeling looks set to become a thing of the past as over half (54%) of parents will ask their children exactly what they want for Christmas.

The image of Britain's children, unable to sleep on Christmas Eve due to excitement and anticipation, could soon be obsolete.

A new study shows that magical feeling looks set to become a thing of the past as over half (54%) of parents will ask their children exactly what they want for Christmas. 19% even admit that they'll be taking their children with them when shopping for their child's Christmas gift.

The findings, released today as part of the "TK Maxx Christmas Shopping Report", show that when it comes to gift-giving, people aren't taking their chances with Christmas surprises any more, preferring to prioritise getting the gift right above all else.

And it's not just the children who are missing out on the magic of Christmas surprises. Heading any disappointment off at the pass, a quarter (24%) of Britons say that they plan to tell their partner exactly what it is they want for Christmas. 4% will even go so far as to buy the gifts themselves in order to make absolutely certain they receive the right present.

Commenting on the findings, Gabrielle Teare the UK's leading personal shopping consultant, and advisor to the Confessions of a Shopaholic film, says:

"There really is no feeling like the one you get from finding the perfect gift for someone you love. However, the findings show that people would rather take the element of surprise out of their Christmas Day than have a recipient ending up with a gift they don't really want."

Teare continues: "The unknown is increasingly being removed from all aspects of our lives, with the internet taking away any element of surprise. We now have the ability to know whatever's coming, from the layout of our hotel room on the other side of the world, to the news of a friend's engagement, announced via social networks.

"If people's discomfort with surprise continues, we could be in a situation in ten years where giving gifts at Christmas is about finding exactly the right, requested present, with there being no surprises at all hidden under the tree."

Unclaimed Vouchers

Given our apparent dislike for giving or receiving the wrong presents, it is perhaps inevitable that so many vouchers are given at Christmas, allowing people to choose their own presents.

However, the "TK Maxx Christmas Shopping Report" reveals that Brits are missing out on a staggering half a billion pounds' worth of Christmas presents (£492,775,920).

A whopping 13,537,800 presents are effectively going un-received, as people fail to redeem gift vouchers they are given at Christmas.

30% of people said that they had vouchers from previous years that they'd never redeemed. On average, each voucher was worth £36.40.

Bad Gift Trauma

Being on the receiving end of a bad present is still a real fear for some people, though. The "TK Maxx Christmas Shopping Report" found that 14% of people are so concerned that their nearest and dearest will make a poor choice that they have gone so far as to practise a suitably delighted expression in the mirror ahead of the big day.

And the practice is clearly paying off. Whilst one in five people (18%) weren't happy with anything they received last year, a huge 42% of people are expecting to be disappointed this year.

According to the study, some of the worst presents received in previous years range from roll-on deodorants to already-opened boxes of chocolates.

Teare continues: "The results show that gift-giving can be fraught and we'd far rather put up with bad presents year on year than offend our friends and family. However, a huge 82% of us don't write wish lists so it would suggest that this is something we should start doing to get around the problem of bad presents. "

Higher Spends

But there's some cheer this Christmas, with a third (32%) of people saying that they plan to spend more on presents this year than they did last year. This year's average spend on Christmas gifts is expected to be £241.10.

Keeping Mum... Happy

When it comes to recipients, two thirds of women (66%) say that it's most important that their children are happy with their presents.

But for men, mum is still the most important woman in their life. Half of men (49%) say that it's more important that their mum loves her Christmas present, rather than their wives / girlfriends or children.

And there are still some men who are as surprised as mum when she opens her gift. A fifth of men (21%) admit to having their wives / girlfriends choose their mother's present.

However, the number of men relying on the advice of other women is small. Only 7% saying that they'll be getting a female colleague to buy their wife's or girlfriend's Christmas present.

Teare concludes:

"A little thought can make the difference between a good gift and a great one. Great presents are those that show special thought. But you don't need to spend huge amounts of money. The best presents are often the ones that people never feel they can justify buying for themselves.

"Choose something that has relevance to the recipient, and you're well on the way to finding a truly memorable Christmas gift."

Research was carried out by TK Maxx amongst a representative sample of 2,060 adults aged 18+ 30th Oct - 2nd Nov 2009

About TK Maxx

TK Maxx is a designer brands-for-less retailer implementing a unique 'off-price' concept which originated in the US. It sells designer and high street brands of womenswear, menswear, homeware, gifts and accessories at up to 60% less than the recommended retail price (RRP.)

TK Maxx launched in the UK in 1994 and now has over 230 stores nationwide

Opportunistic buying and a no frills operation means TK Maxx can pass huge savings onto the customer, including savings on designer handbags and fashion accessories . A typical store has over 50,000 items in stock and receives 10,000 new pieces, styles and colours a week, which means stock is consistently fresh

You can now buy on line at

TK Maxx is part of TJX Europe, the European subsidiary of the US group TJX Companies Inc

About Gabrielle Teare

Gabrielle Teare is one of the UK's leading personal shoppers. As well as having private clients that range from footballers' wives to Saudi princesses, Gabrielle was also a consultant to the hit Disney film Confessions of a Shopaholic. Over 750,000 people a month visit Gabrielle's site for shopping and style advice.


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David Peiris

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