Family celebrating Christmas

(© Konstantin Yuganov -

NEW YORK — To kick off the season of shopping, a new survey finds that the “perfect gift” for the holidays has to be, above all else, a surprise. In a new poll of 2,000 Americans, 79 percent feel giving gifts is more fun when the recipient isn’t expecting it. Nearly half (49%) believe gifts are truly the best when it’s a surprise both to the giver and the recipient — like a mystery box or blind-box item.

In addition, Americans also described the “perfect gift” as meaningful (60%), useful (44%), and unique (34%). Interestingly, only eight percent of Americans described the best gift as funny or expensive.

Commissioned by MGA Entertainment and conducted by OnePoll, the survey revealed that gift-giving is motivated by the experience: 81 percent believe it’s important to be there in the room when someone is opening a present from them. Gift-givers can tell when they gave a great gift if they receive hugs (68%), the recipient is playing with or using the gift right away (63%), or if they’re jumping up and down (55%).

Many can still recall their own childhood experiences of receiving gifts. Overall, 35 percent remember their first gift from when they were five to seven years-old. Another 26 percent claim they can remember their first gift from ages two to four. They often reacted the same way when receiving gifts as kids — playing with gifts right away (61%), hugging the gift giver (49%), or jumping up and down (40%).

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When it comes to purchase motivations, 42 percent of gift-givers tend to look for toys that can be shared and experienced together with the gift recipient (42%).

2 in 3 think gift-giving leads to happiness

Seven in 10 say getting to spend quality time together is the most effective way they feel close to the child in their life.

“There really is something special about the experience of giving gifts,” says Isaac Larian, CEO and founder of MGA Entertainment, in a statement. “It’s the element of surprise, the connection we feel with the person we gave the gift to, and the happiness we feel when we know we’ve just given the ultimate gift. In fact, a quarter of Americans aim to earn the ‘ultimate gift-giver’ title when they give gifts. That gifting dynamic among family and friends is what we are so excited to be a part of.”

Nearly half (47%) say they enjoy giving gifts more than they do receiving them. This could explain why respondents say they associate gift-giving with happiness (68%), excitement (63%), and love (55%).

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Gifts, according to respondents, are most frequently given to the kids (42%), adult family members (20%), and significant others (16%) in their lives. For adults, the most common gifts are money or gift cards (63%), clothing (57%), food or beverages (43%), jewelry (39%), electronics (34%) and home goods (33%). A quarter also named toys or collectibles as a common gift for adults.

“Adults who love children’s toys or grew up collecting them are who we call ‘kidults,’” says Isaac Larian, CEO and Founder of MGA Entertainment. “There is an irreplaceable magic that comes from toys – whether it’s collectibles, dolls or playsets.”

But, why are gifts most frequently given to kids?

The study also found 91 percent of those surveyed have given a gift to a child in their life and five percent believe kids between three and nine are the “most fun” to give presents to. Unsurprisingly, the most common gifts to give to kids are toys (72%). Other top gifts for kids are clothing (60%), games and activities (57%), money or gift cards (54%), and electronics (39%).

The study also discovered the types of toys gift-givers prefer giving the most, including stuffed animals (30%), collectables (27%), toy vehicles (25%), outdoor toys (25%), and playsets (22%).

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More than a third (39%) prefer giving gifts that would be entertaining to the gift-receiver. Meanwhile, many prefer giving something practical (24%) or collectable (16%).

Overall, the survey found the key things to look for are toys or gifts that offer collaborative play (42%), promotes education (41%), or evokes a sense of surprise (39%).

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who know at least one child was commissioned by MGA Entertainment between September 13 and September 19, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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