infographic showing results of a gifting survey

Note this study was commissioned in 2018, when DHL Parcel UK was known as DHL Parcel

DHL Parcel UK (previously DHL Parcel) commissioned a study to look into how much time, thought and effort people put into choosing gifts for different people. Do we spend more time looking for the perfect gift for our best friend than we do our partner? And do we spend weeks choosing something for mum but grab the first the first thing we see for dad? Who is hardest to buy for? Who do we agonise over the most? Why does it really matter what some people think and not others?!


Brits claim their partners are the most difficult to buy for

Brits are spending hours and hours hunting for their partner’s Christmas present – after claiming they are the most difficult to buy for. Despite spending more time with the partner than any other family member, more than a third have no idea what to get them. As such, Brits are spending almost three hours scouring the shops for something suitable to buy – an hour and a half longer than it takes to choose for their best friend.

Even dad is easier to buy for, with Brits taking an hour and 28 minutes to select a special something – although one in five think he’d rather have a kiss and a hug anyway.

The study of 2,000 adults, shows mum takes an average of an hour and 47 minutes to buy for, sisters take an hour and 12 minutes and brothers just under an hour. But the boss takes the least amount of effort – with workers taking just over half an hour to choose a gift.

Gemma Conroy, Ecommerce Manager for DHL Pacel UK (previously DHL Parcel) said:

“Our research has highlighted how thoughtful and dedicated people are to their present buying.We know how important it is to find the perfect gift for those special people in our lives, and nothing beats the feeling of giving someone a present which they absolutely love. Being part of a globally trusted courier, we want to encourage more people to share that feeling of excitement and happiness, which you get when receiving or sending a gift. Whether it’s posting a gift at Christmas, for a birthday or just to show someone you care. The DHL Parcel UK service and online booking form is designed to make parcel delivery fast and simple for everyone.” 

Researchers found adults are most worried about impressing a partner, followed by the children and mum. Dad is the second hardest person to buy for, according to 17 per cent of adults who have no idea what to buy. While a further 16 per cent find it hard shopping for mum, and 12 per cent agonise over what toys to get the children – and spend a staggering two hours and 27 minutes doing just that. The in-laws will receive presents chosen in just over an hour, while Grandma and Grandad take 49 minutes and 45 minutes respectively. Aunts, uncles and cousins take around 35 to 40 minutes to shop for.

The research also delved into people’s reactions to the gifts they had been given – and found children are the most honest, and the most likely to show discontent at something they’ve received. Similarly, just over a third of gift givers said they could tell straight away when the recipient didn’t like what they’d been given. But if the tables are turned, 30 per cent believe they have a good ‘fake enthusiasm face’ themselves when opening a gift they don’t like. Four in 10 females believe they can disguise their true feelings with their facial expressions, and yet only 25 per cent of males believe they can hide how they really feel. More than a third of people admit to re-gifting a present they didn’t like – with men more likely to re-gift something than women. A fifth are most likely to re-gift a present received from the in-laws than any other gift-giver.

Brits care about the importance of giving at Christmas, with 44 per cent preferring to give a gift than receive one, compared to the small one in 10 who would rather receive a gift. A huge 62 per cent said they feel ‘happy’ when they give a gift compared to only 14 per cent who feel anxious, showing how enjoyable gift giving is. Similarly, receiving a gift makes people feel loved and appreciated and 44 per cent say they prefer a carefully selected gift over money or a gift voucher. Just try not to take too long to select it, as 14 per cent admit to feeling disappointed when someone is late giving a gift and five per cent say it is embarrassing.

The study, conducted via OnePoll, also found people start thinking about and buying their Christmas presents a whole seven weeks before the big day. However, a very organised one in ten starts ticking presents off their Christmas list four months ahead of time!

Gemma Conroy from DHL Parcel UK (previously DHL Parcel) added: 

"With busy lifestyles and families and friends not always living close by, choosing a gift and ensuring they receive it on time can be challenging. We aim to encourage more people to surprise and delight the special people in their lives by sending a parcel in the post using our fast, reliable and straight forward booking form and delivery service.”