The hustle and bustle is here. Once again holiday gift-givers are thinking about important people to buy for: who they drew in the family gift exchange, what to give that nice neighbor friend, and how many presents are too many for kids to open on Christmas morning. 

New CivicScience data show that most of the gift-giving categories hold similar percentages to last year. Clothing, shoes, and accessories are at the top of the likely-to-give list (24%). If you’re getting a present this year, there is a nearly one-in-four chance you’ll unwrap something to add to your wardrobe. 

Children’s toys is the second most popular gift-giving category (20%), followed by entertainment (12%) – which includes books, games, movies, and any gaming-related items – and tech/electronics (11%). One notable difference this year is that gift-givers are planning to buy fewer products in the home and outdoor category, as well as in the food and cooking category.

Gifting Experiences

Another significant difference relates to experiences as gifts. Nine percent of gift-givers intend to surprise the majority of their recipients with experiences, such as event tickets, trips, or classes. But this gifting category isn’t quite as popular among recipients as in years past. When asked which type of gift they preferred to receive (gift card, experience, or physical gift), people chose gift cards (26%) and physical gifts (21%) more often than experiences (19%) this year. CivicScience last asked consumers which type of gift they wanted in 2019 and the results were extremely different – experiences trumped physical gifts by leaps and almost equaled the desire for gift cards.

There are also more people who say they don’t care what kind of gift they get this year.

Giving Categories by Age

Those who do like the idea of receiving an experience as a gift in 2022 tend to be in the 25-34 age group. Consumers between ages 25 and 34 are also unique in their gift-giving plans. They are the only ones who under-index in likelihood to buy apparel as a gift this year. For all other age groups, clothing, shoes, and accessories are the dominant gifting category. Young Millennial gift-givers appear more diverse in their giving categories, but like the Gen Pop, will also focus on children’s toys.

Gift-givers in the 18-24 age group plan to buy more presents in the entertainment and art, collectibles, and craft categories when compared to other age groups. And, while they are the least opinionated on what they receive for themselves, the over-55 crowd are predominantly putting their money toward apparel and children’s toys this holiday season.

Eleven percent of holiday shoppers are taking on debt to give gifts this year, and data show that number increases among people who are buying home and outdoor gifts. These shoppers are also more opinionated about what they receive; unsurprisingly, they are hoping for gift cards more than anything else.

Overall, gift cards truly are the most desirable gift to receive this year, even though many people confess to having one or more unused gift cards stashed away at home. Apparel and children’s toys are the most popular gifts to give, while experiences are low on the list for giving and receiving. 

Stay on top of 2022 holiday shopping season trends with the CivicScience Consumer Holiday Tracker. Start here.