Faith in Humanity Restored: Survey Finds Loved Ones are Top Holiday Priority

New survey from Consumers’ Research asks Americans opinions on gifts, activities and merriment. 

According to recent results from a Consumers’ Research survey, the holidays really are about spending time with friends and family. In each of the questions that asked Americans to grade the importance of activities and gifts, time with loved ones came out on top.  It was the most important activity during the holidays and the most desirable holiday gift.  When Americans were asked how merry they thought the upcoming holiday season would be they gave it 7.3 out of 10 on a merriment scale; merry, but not overwhelmingly so.

“The Grinch was right – you don’t need ribbons, tags, packages, boxes and bags to make the season merry,” said Joe Colangelo, Executive Director of Consumers’ Research. “It shouldn’t be surprising but it was reassuring.  We’re pleased to see so many people view the holidays, and this holiday in particular, as a merry time to connect with the people they love.”

When Americans were asked how important holiday activities were, graded individually on a 10 point scale, from extremely important to not at all important, the top 4 answers were: spending time with loved ones, great meals, sticking to your budget, and gift giving.  Scoring as less important, the bottom 3 were: enhancing spiritual life, charitable giving, and finally receiving gifts.

Consumers’ Research also asked Americans how desirable they found types of holiday gifts. Graded individually from very desirable to not at all desirable on a 10 point scale, quality time with loved ones, money, and handmade gifts led the results.  Less desirable than those, according to respondents, were gift cards, store bought gifts, investments, and finally at the bottom, a charitable donation made in their name.

Regional Data

Every region of the country said that they most value the gift of quality time with loved ones.  The Northeast expects the merriest holiday trailed by the Midwest and West in a tie and finally the South anticipates the least merry holiday.

  • Northeasterners valued homemade gifts more than other regions.
  • Midwesterners enjoy getting gifts over other parts of the country but they aren’t fans of gift cards, valuing them less than other regions.
  • The South may be the region with the most holiday spirit.  They lead in excitement about great meals, sticking to a budget, gift giving, enhancing spiritual life, and charitable giving.  Southerners are also more concerned about sticking to a budget than the other regions.
  • Westerners appreciate store bought gifts, investments, and charitable donations made in their names more than did the other parts of the country.

Additional Findings:

  • Women are more excited about the Holidays than men are.  Women are more positive about literally every category asked.  The only area where men showed similar enthusiasm was for gifts of money.  Men were more likely to have ranked money at the top of their scale in desirability as a gift.
  • The young also think that the holiday will be merrier than older respondents.  18-24 are most optimistic, 25-34 were second, followed by those 50 and over, 35-49 were most reserved in their expectations of the merriness of the season.
  • Higher income also translated to a brighter outlook.  Those with incomes under $50k placed the merriment of the Holiday at lower than those with incomes $50k and over.
  • Those with incomes $50k and over, valued investment gifts more than those making less than $50k a year.
  • Respondents 50 and over were most likely to be thinking about their spiritual life during the holidays. They also valued homemade gifts over younger respondents.
  • Younger respondents were more likely to love the gift of cash than the older age groups.  They were also more excited about the prospect of getting gifts.
  • People with incomes $75k and over valued the activity of gift giving more than other income group.


OMNIWEB using the KnowledgePanel ™ is a national online omnibus service of GfK Custom Research North America. The results are based on interviews conducted from December 12 – 14, 2014. A total of approximately 1,000 interviews were completed, with approximately 500 female adults and 500 male adults. The margin of error on weighted data is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.

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Kyle Burgess is the co-founder of two social enterprises and has worked in strategy, communications, and program management for a decade. Kyle received her Master’s degree in International Relations & Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from American University.



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