Other than all those bangin’ Christmas brunch recipes, the best part of the holiday season is definitely picking out the perfect presents to give our loved ones. Whether it’s a personalized denim jacket for your squad members or a thoughtful gift for your S.O.’s parents, watching their reaction when they open their gift is just so satisfying. But a new study suggests that our preoccupation with “the big reveal” moment actually means we’re buying our besties all the wrong things!

Friends opening Christmas gifts in living room

The study, recently published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, analyzed “many existing frameworks from research in this area,” and found “a mismatch between the thought processes and motivations of gift givers and recipients.” While gift givers focus on the “wow factor” and element of surprise in the moment of exchange, gift recipients place way more value on the long-term use of the gift and whether they’ve been lusting after it for a long time (there’s a reason Santa gets so many letters!).

Jeff Galak, lead researcher and co-author of the study, puts it in simple sitcom terms we can all understand: “There may be times when the vacuum cleaner, a gift that is unlikely to wow most recipients when they open it on Christmas day, really ought to be at the top of the shopping list, as it will be well used and liked for a long time.”

Fret not, you generous souls. This totally doesn’t mean you have to take all the romance out of gift giving! Jeff explains, “We exchange gifts with the people we care about, in part, to make them happy and strengthen our relationships with them,” and giving them gifts they really want and need (vs. what you think will make a great surprise) will do just that.

So instead of that cropped sweater, gift your sister a luxe sheet set and surprise your brother with tickets to an upcoming concert in his city rather than a decorative Beatles coffee table book. These kinds of practical and experiential gifts are still fun to give from your end but will mean more to your loved ones in the long run.

Do you have any practical gifts on your wishlist this year? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us what useful tools you’re hoping to score!

(Photos via Getty)