Of all Christmas traditions, gift-giving is one that favourite of many, and it’s often a central part of any festive gathering, whether it’s taking a few minutes to swap presents before the Christmas feast or a family sitting down for a gift-exchange game such as White Elephant. Because of clothing, cultural Christmas gift exchanges often revolve around gifts of clothes, particularly between families. There is much variety in how Christmas is observed, but the gift-giving ritual is one tradition practised nearly universally.
This is true since gift-giving during the holidays is an ancient tradition, going back thousands of years across various religions, times, and cultures. Moreover, gift-giving around the holidays draws on traditions that go back further than Christianity, as well as from several unidentified wise men who may or may not have been kings.
When Christianity folded those traditions into the celebration of Christmas, justifications for giving gifts were redirected toward the Three Wise Men, the Magi, giving gifts to an infant Jesus. When Christmas was re-domesticated in 1800s America, the recipients of gifts were moved from lower classes to children, provided by versions of Santa Claus.
In early modern Europe, Christmas bore little resemblance to the family-centred festival celebrated today. However, after the suppression of Christmas due to Puritan values, a new century saw the practice of gift-giving returned, and a secular seasonal tradition emerged, which is still prevalent. This meant more people were introduced to the wonders of Christmas and all that it stands for.
The retail sector identified and capitalised on the commercial potential of Christmas, which sold it to the public, creating the modern Christmas seasonal industry, which has grown around the tradition of giving gifts of the figure of Santa Claus. Beauty Christmas gift sets have recently seen high demand from trend-setting retailers for gifts, novelties, and souvenirs.
The increased demand for specialty items is another crucial driver supporting gift retailing market share growth. One of the significant factors driving gift retailing market growth is rising seasonal decor needs and a growing gifting culture. A substantial proportion of revenue generated from the gift retailing market worldwide is contributed to seasonal decorations.
The gifts market represents a massive opportunity for retailers during the holiday and the rest of the year. Moreover, these substantial gifting opportunities occur over a year, not just during the holidays. While the annual end-of-year gifting season gets the lion’s share of the marketer and retailer focus when it comes to gifting, the reality is gifting represents a vital marketing opportunity all year long.
That leaves less time for holiday shopping: 43% of consumers expect to start shopping for gifts by October’s end, but 70% of shoppers make some purchases during the final weeks leading up to Christmas. According to the NPD Groups survey, about four in ten consumers had already purchased holiday gifts by October, primarily because of concerns over supplies. On average, people are planning to buy nine gifts this year, down from 16 last year, according to one of the Consulting Group’s 37th annual survey of the holidays, which interviewed 5,000 respondents in September.
U.S. consumers told pollsters that they planned to spend an average of $942 on holiday gifts this year — $57 more than they did last year. According to a survey conducted by The Conference Board in October, consumers are on pace to spend an average of $1,022 on gifts and holiday-related items this holiday season, with $648 going to gifts and $374 going to other things.
In other countries, the majority will spend at most PS100 per person per year on festive gifts. Christmas accounts for just under half of a typical presenter’s annual budget. A look at how much gifters spend for particular holidays and occasions shows that they spend roughly half as much for birthday gifts over a year on Christmas alone.
In most countries, children get their presents on Christmas morning, but adults must wait until New Year. In the United States, some African-American families observe Kwanzaa, which runs from Dec. 26 to New Year, and children are traditionally given significant Christmas gift packs, such as books. In Italy, children get gifts from Babbo Natale or Santa Claus, but a witch-like woman is also present, delivering gifts to the good people during the holidays and coals to the bad.
In other parts of the world, however, who brings gifts, and what these gifts are may differ, depending on where families live and which holidays are celebrated. For example, in New Zealand and Australia, an entire nation gets behind a secret-Santa program in which strangers sign up online to send and receive gifts at Christmas.