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Wrapping Presents Messy Makes You Happier

Study Confirms People Who Wrap Presents Sloppily Are Happier, So You Have Permission to Throw It All in a Bag This Year

I know what I'm good at, and I know what I stink at, and when it comes to gift-giving, my strengths lie in the presents themselves — finding the obscure, thoughtful, hard-to-find item that can really put a smile on someone's face. But even if I had all the time in the world to devote to finding cute wrapping paper and bows, I still couldn't put together anything that matches the thoughtfulness of what's inside. It's part of the reason why I'm such a big fan of stocking stuffers.

There were years when I made excuses for the puffiness around the edges of my presents ("I ran out of tape!"), and others when I honestly ran out of wrapping paper, so every present was only wrapped about 75 percent of the way. It runs in my family — my mother is also a terrible wrapper (sorry, Mom), and it's honestly not something I want to become good at. Creasing paper, folding angles, making crisp edges, applying the right amount of tape — none of that interests me, but I've always been embarrassed by this, often hiding my presents in the back of piles at gift exchanges.

But a new study out of the University of Nevada found that sloppy gift wrapping can actually make a person happier, and I've never been more thrilled. Researchers zeroed in on the recipients' moods and reactions when they received nicely wrapped gifts and messily wrapped gifts. "Specifically, recipients set higher (lower) expectations for neatly (sloppily)‐wrapped gifts, making it harder (easier) for the gifts to meet these expectations, resulting in contrast effects that lead to less (more) positive attitudes toward the gifts once unwrapped," the abstract states. A-ha! Set the bar low and everyone's happy!

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This is great news if you're like me and want to devote no more than 10 minutes to the entire ordeal this year. Or heck, hand them the Amazon box it came in and draw a little smily face. It saves paper!

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