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Why A Creatively Wrapped Gift Could Lead To Disappointment


All right. Noel, I was lucky enough to have you as my secret Santa at the office party this year, which was cool. You got me this delicious syrup.


Yes, from my hometown of Kerhonkson, in upstate New York.

GREENE: Nice. I cannot wait to taste it. And, I've got to say, also the gift bag was on point. I loved it, and that's important. It matters because we've been thinking a lot about gift preparation. Last week we visited this master wrapper, Mia Canada, while she was on the job.

MIA CANADA: Just the thought of the wrapping itself, you know, it creates an experience.

GREENE: It does. But here's the thing. According to a new study, if you put something in a fancy package, there'd better be something good inside.

UZMA KHAN: If you see a Tiffany box, you don't expect chocolate to come out of it.

KING: That is Uzma Khan. She teaches marketing at the University of Miami, and she was part of this team of researchers that found people are even more disappointed when they get a bad gift in a fancy package than if it was just, like, wrapped in newspaper. Tom Easton wrote about this study for The Economist, and he told us over Skype that people getting the gifts get a message from the wrapping.

TOM EASTON: Their expectations rise to a tremendous level, and then they unwrap it, and what do they feel? Nothing but disappointment.

GREENE: All right. Well, one way around this problem, choose a good gift. That's what Uzma Khan did for her 5-year-old son on Christmas.

KHAN: His I wrapped up with big ribbons and bows because I knew that he was going to be ecstatic.

GREENE: And how did he react?

KHAN: He went a little crazy and started running around screaming that this was the best day of his life. So he was very happy, I would say.

KING: All right. Now, the sample size of this study was small so if you still think you can impress using style over substance, you can disregard our advice. Then again, if you're thinking about regifting some ugly socks, for example, maybe look in the recycling bin for some old newspaper. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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