How to choose the perfect Christmas present according to science – and why you should have sex to beat festive stress

And if you want a bit of romance this festive season, you’d be right to choose carefully.

So just in time for the final countdown to the big day, Sun Online reveals how you can use the scientific research behind gift-giving to get your partner just what they’ve always wanted.

Sex is the perfect 'antidote to enforced jollity'

Probably the most annoying question at this time of year is: "What do you want for Christmas?"

But if you want your loved one happy this festive season, keep on nagging.

A study for the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2011 found the most appreciated gifts are the ones that our loved ones ask for.

When you’re in a relationship the best gift to each other can be making time for each other, says Dr Becky Spelman, relationship expert for the couples' vibrator We-Vibe.

She says: "While Christmas can be lots of fun, it can also be very stressful, as people feel the need to put their happiness on display.

"For couples, it’s important to find an antidote to all the enforced jollity — a hearty walk on a windy beach or a good old-fashioned romp are both good options."

Get it wrong, and you could get dumped

Six out of ten of us have given a present we got from our partner to a charity shop, according to a new Vouchercodes survey.

This year in the UK, it is estimated we will find £1billion's worth of Christmas presents we hate under the tree.

But get it wrong and you won't just be left with a gift you want to take back to the shop, especially if you've only just started dating.

In one study, published in the journal Social Cognition in 2008, researchers tested the reactions of couples still in the early stages of their relationship to gifts they thought had been picked out by their lovers.

If women got presents they hated, they tended to think their man had made a mistake.

If men got gifts they loathed, they were more likely to see it as a sign they had nothing in common with their girlfriends – and that they should finish with them.

You can tell how much he loves you by how much your gift costs

Are you hoping for a really blingy gift under the tree as a sign your man loves you?

On average, women expect their partner to spend between £100 and £150 on gifts, according to a new survey by Showers to You.

But if he splashes out more, it could means he’s besotted.

According to a study by the University of Colorado, when lovers want to show how much their other half means to them, they don’t like saving money.

Instead they tend to splash out more to prove the depth of their feelings.

Peter McGraw, lead author of the study, said: "People's buying behaviour changes when they're making purchases out of love because it feels wrong to engage in cost-saving measures."

Buying jewellery can make your partner feel valued

It may be a bit cheesy but if you’re looking forward to intimate moments this Christmas, men should head for the jewellery shop.

Felix Economakis of the British Psychological Society, says that at Christmas women may look for gifts as a form of reassurance they are loved and valued.

"Women tend to like presents which suggest thought has gone into them.

"Many women may feel starved of romantic gestures the rest of the year and look to Christmas as a time when they might get something a little bit special, something that’s got thought behind it."

Personalised gifts are a sign of closeness

If you don't have the cash to spend, then go for something personalised instead.

It will send the message you still care without breaking the bank, according to a study in the Journal of Marketing in 2015.

It found that homemade or personalised gifts are seen as a sign the gift-giver is trying to show their love.

And it works the other way round too: another study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, psychologists tested how close a group of 122 students felt after swapping gifts.

They were told to either give an iTunes song, which said about a lot their own musical tastes or life experiences – or a tune they thought the other person would like.
The study showed the students felt closer when they were given a song which reflected the giver’s personality.

It's believed this is due to the fact that the givers were showing the courage to share their true selves with the recipients.

Men, beware of buying practical presents

If your relationship has hit a rocky patch, it’s more important than ever to choose the right present.

"Unappreciated gifts do not make or break a relationship," says Dr Spelman.

"But they can feel like the final straw if they seem to represent a consistent pattern of a lack of consideration."

And men should be extremely careful when it comes to giving the women in their lives practical gifts for the house.

"Maybe the household could really do with a new hoover or blender," adds Dr Spelman.

"But the message that comes across might well be that he expects his loved one to do all the housework, or that he sees her as having a more menial role in their family or couple unit. That's a message which few women will appreciate."

Mixing gift sizes makes the giver look stingy

Are you thinking of including a small stocking-filler, like a pair of socks or a lipstick, inside your main present to make it look more generous? If so, don't.

Subconsciously, you lover will work out the average cost of the two, making it seem lower value.

This is because psychologists have found that when we get two gifts in one, we tend to see them as a single package.

Kimberlee Weaver, associate professor of marketing at America’s Virginia Tech University, says: "When givers bundle together a larger item, like a Le Creuset dish with some smaller items, like a spatula or potholder, the more-is-better strategy backfires.

"Adding on a 'little' gift on makes the total package seem less big."

Overdoing the wrapping could disappoint your partner

You may feel like dressing up your Christmas gift with bows and ribbons, but don’t go over the top.

While your gift may look gorgeous under the tree, you other half is more likely to be disappointed because their hopes are raised that the parcel contains something very expensive.

Nathan Novemsky, Professor of Marketing in the Yale School of Management, says: "People think nice wrapping can never hurt — and they’re wrong.

"When it comes to the exchange of gifts, nice wrapping sets high expectations, amplifying the disappointment of receiving unusual or undesirable gifts, and even dimming the glow of great gifts."

Instead, surprise your partner by wrapping a lavish gift as blandly as possible.

Professor Novemsky adds: "If it's not a great gift, then people are actually more unhappy with the gift if it's nicely wrapped, than if it's just in brown paper or unwrapped."

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