As we head into the final days before Christmas, a lot of us will begin to experience that frantic rush that comes with it.

For some, one of the biggest sources of stress this time of the year is transforming that pile of purchases into brightly wrapped presents that will sparkle under the tree.

But achieving that 'perfect' wrapping job can be quite elusive for a lot of people - I included - which might tempt you to just slap some shiny paper, ribbons, and bows together and call it good. After all, it's the thought that counts, right?

It depends on who is on the receiving end.

Fast Company Associate Editor Maureen Morrin enlisted the help of two college professors, Jessica Rixom and Brett Rixon, from the University of Nevada, Reno to conduct a trio of experiments to explore the impact of gift wrapping.

They even wrote up their conclusions for a paper recently published by the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

In one experiment involving 180 college students who were given a gift for participating in a research study, the results showed that those who received a sloppily wrapped gift liked their present significantly more than those who received a neatly wrapped gift—regardless of what they got.

Turns out, it's all about lowered expectations.

Hopes were significantly higher for the neatly wrapped gifts compared with sloppily wrapped ones. However, after the reveal, participants receiving the neatly wrapped gift reported that it failed to live up to their expectations, while those who got the sloppily wrapped gift said it surpassed their expectations.

There is one rub though.

In a different experiment, half of the gift recipients were instructed to imagine the present had come from a close friend, while the other half were told to imagine it came from an acquaintance.
Again, the shoddy wrapping job was just fine when it came from someone close, but it was just the opposite for the present from an acquaintance.

The majority of respondents said they preferred a neatly wrapped gift from someone they don't know as well because it showed how much the gift-giver valued their relationship.

The takeaway? Know your audience.

While we're talking wrapping, I did come across this interesting 'hack' that requires no tape:

But if you don't want to be bothered with wrapping this year, bring your unwrapped presents to the Children's Inn gift wrap booth in the Macy's wing of the Empire Mall and have someone else do the work for you.

You'll feel great when you leave with some good looking gifts and a warm feeling in your heart knowing your freewill donation will help families escaping abusive situations this holiday season.

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