Patrick Wessels: ‘Useful gifts for Sinterklaas and Christmas: the (grand)children are just as happy about it’

There is a big saving ready for all parents and grandparents who want to spoil their (grand)children during Sinterklaas and Christmas. Namely: used gifts. They are much cheaper, and just as much fun for everyone who receives them. Children, for example, don’t care, research from Marktplaats shows. And despite the fact that that conclusion naturally fits the used platform, there is also a lot to be said for it from a purely psychological point of view.

Marktplaats invited 14 families to a toy test. They let children play with used gifts. And they asked the parents what they thought the children would think.

Their reaction can be guessed, parents thought it was mainly ‘dirty’, ‘mean’ and therefore not so successful. Children thought very differently about this. Used is very sustainable according to them. And most importantly, the kids saw no difference from new and especially loved playing with it.

3 times happy for a gift

These used gifts make no difference through the eyes of a child. And it can be explained psychologically based on 3 insights:

  • The pleasure of getting
    People are happy to receive. This applies as much to children as to their parents and grandparents. Accomplishing gives a good feeling, just as it feels unpleasant when something is taken away. Children (and adults) who acquire something create a happy hormone in the brain, and therefore feel (equally) happier. Both new and used gifts create this positive effect by getting.

NB: acquiring things only gives a (very) temporary sense of happiness. So choose gifts that (grand)children can play with (together). Playing (together) creates a more sustainable sense of happiness.

  • The tension during the unpacking
    The joy of achievement increases while unwrapping a gift (or even a purchase of your own). Children unwrapping a gift experience excitement because they want to know what is inside the wrapping paper. For this sense of excitement, it doesn’t matter what’s in it, so a used gift scores as well as a new one.

Tip: wrap any gift, including used. Be sustainable with wrapping paper, but make sure kids have to make an effort to unwrap it. If this moment lasts a little longer, it only leads to additional tension.

  • New incentives
    We like everything new that applies to adults and children. The new incentives of a gift make it extra interesting to play with. A used gift is just as much ‘new’ to a child simply because he or she hasn’t had one yet.

Furthermore, it is psychologically very logical that children see no difference. The used gift they receive creates one simple evaluation, an independent evaluation. Children do not compare a used gift with a new one. They compare a used gift to ‘no gift’.

Therefore there is nothing good or better. A used gift is a gift, for example in the form of a toy. And if children can play with it, that is the most important value for them. The fact that it is used second-hand does not matter, and therefore certainly has no effect on the pleasure experienced.

New or used: it doesn’t matter

A new gift for children does not create value by being ‘new’. Instead, it’s about getting, unpacking and getting the new incentives of something a child didn’t have before.

The same value offers a used gift. Children receive the gift, unwrap it and experience the new stimuli. A new gift provides no added value, so it is a psychological waste to spend a lot of money on it. And if we embrace second-hand gifts as the new accepted norm, the planet will ultimately win.

Consumer psychologist Patrick Wessels combines news reports, scientific articles and practical tips to delve deeper into consumer psychology. Read all of Patrick Wessel’s columns here.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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