Giving gifts that count: Finding a meaningful gift is a priority for 8 in 10 (78%) Canadian gift shoppers.

7 in 10 (69%) would forsake traditional gifts and instead prefer to receive a meaningful gift that would help someone else.

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, November 19, 2019 — The holiday season, which has come to be synonymous with the gift-giving season, is upon us. And with it begins the hunt for the perfect gift. When shopping for gifts, most Canadians prioritize gifts with meaning and lasting impact, according to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of World Vision.

Most Canadians (86%) believe that Christmas is becoming too commercial, according to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of World Vision. With nearly half (48%) of Canadians strongly agreeing with this sentiment, it may be time to rethink what constitutes the perfect gift.

When shopping for gifts, a priority for more than three-quarters of Canadians is whether the gift is meaningful (78%), on par with whether it is well liked (79%), while nearly 6 in 10 (58%) prioritize if the gift will positively impact someone’s life. Other priorities include ensuring that the gift:

  • is not expensive (25%),
  • is convenient to purchase (25%),
  • helps to minimize impact of the environment (12%),
  • is educational (12%),
  • appears to be expensive (4%—though this is mostly a priority for younger Canadians (18-34 8% vs. 35-54 2%, 55+ 1%)
  • other (9%)

Instead of the traditional clothes or electronics, 7 in 10 (69%) Canadians would opt to receive a meaningful gift that would help someone else. Given the preference to receive a charitable gift over a traditional gift, nearly half (44%) of Canadians are also likely to use this holiday season to give a charitable gift in someone else’s name.

The abundance associated with the holiday season makes most Canadians think about those less fortunate (80%) and they believe that more time needs to be spent on Christmas focusing on those in need (89%). The holiday season therefore, seems to bring with it charitable behavior, as three-quarters (75%) of Canadians are likely to donate to charity this holiday season. Nearly half (45%) are likely to volunteer for a charitable organization this holiday season, and younger Canadians are most likely express this inclination (18-34 54%, 35-54 46% vs. 55+ 37%).

Almost all Canadians (95%) want the gifts they give to people to have a positive lasting impact and three-quarters (75%) have received such a gift themselves. The impact of these gifts is varied, but universally positive: 25% say it inspired a passion of theirs, 17% indicate that it provided them with an experience they would have never done, 14% say it gave them an opportunity that wouldn’t have been available to them otherwise, 7% say it taught them something new about themselves that they didn’t already know, and one quarter (25%) say it impacted them positively in some other way.

Some of the meaningful gifts that Canadians have received include:

  • Homemade crafts: a handmade beaded bracelet from a child, a hand-knit scarf from a mother with arthritis, a poem from a father, and mittens from a boyfriend who learnt to knit.
  • Books: photobooks, scrapbooks, cookbooks, novels, and books related to their interests.
  • Philanthropy: Donations in their name, food for the whole month for their family at time of need, money for their rent, education or surgery.

A majority (56%) say they’ve given a gift to someone that they felt would have a positive, lasting impact on them, while 9% say they haven’t and 34% aren’t sure whether a gift they’ve given has had such an impact.

In the spirit of giving positively impactful gifts, and with climate change emerging as a top priority in the country, nearly half (43%) of Canadians take climate change into account when choosing gifts they give to others — highest among millennials (50% vs. 35-54 37%, 55+ 44%). 

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 29th to November 4th, 2019, on behalf of World Vision. For this survey, a sample of 1001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all employed Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324-2002

About Ipsos

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The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs