Data Journalist

A new YouGov survey on the best kinds of present to receive teaches us one, crucial tip about gift-giving: know your audience.

Brits were given the choice of a practical gift, a fancy gift, a funny gift, an emotional/sentimental gift or an 'experience' gift, and asked which was the best type to receive at Christmas.

Although the results reveal considerable differences between age groups and genders, they also confirm what we’ve really always known: people really do prefer practical presents. In other words, you’re safest giving socks.

It’s not ‘Millennials’ who want experience gifts: it’s kids

More and more, we're hearing that young people don't want 'stuff' anymore - they want experiences. But YouGov's research sends a different message. Just one in six 18 to 24 year olds (16%) want an 'experience' gift for Christmas. They're most likely to prefer a sentimental gift (31%) or a practical one (22%).

In fact, it's kids who are considerably more likely to want an experience present. One in five kids aged 8 to 15 years old (22%) think these are the 'best' gifts. Even then, slightly older kids are more likely to prefer something emotional (26% of 14 year olds, 24% of 15 year olds) or practical (18% of 14 year olds, 17% of 15 year olds).

Give the man his socks and be done with it

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when a man says he really just wants something practical, YouGov's research indicates he probably means it. Men are twice as likely as women to prefer a practical gift (30% of men versus 16% of women), while women are around a third more likely to want something sentimental (15% of men versus 23% of women).

Don't try to be funny

A last-resort solution to trying to think of something for the person that has everything is often some kind of a gag gift: a Donald Trump mug for a die-hard leftie, a sparkly pink pen for a manly man, or whatever else tickles the gift-giver's sense of humour.

However, YouGov's survey shows your attempt at humour is unlikely to go down well (unless you’re shopping for an eight year old, in which case there’s a one in five chance (22%) they’ll love it). Just one in twenty-five British adults (4%) think a funny gift is the best type, with next to no difference of opinion across age or gender lines.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here

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