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What Parents and Grandparents Really Want This Holiday Season

By Pam O’Brien · November 23, 2022 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Parents and Grandparents Really Want This Holiday Season

Your mom wants something surprising for the holidays this year. And so does your dad. In our holiday gift survey, we asked parents and grandparents to reveal the number-one present they hope to find under the tree this season. What they told us is going to make your holiday shopping very merry and bright.

In past years, you probably spent a lot of time searching online and in stores for the perfect Christmas gift ideas for parents and Christmas gift ideas for grandparents. This year, there’s no need to stress out about it because you’ll know exactly what to buy.

So what do mom and dad want you to get them? And what do grandparents want for Christmas? In our survey, we asked 1,000 of them (250 of each — moms, dads, grandmothers, and grandfathers) to share the holiday present they really want this season — and what they don’t want. Here’s what they told us; consider these survey findings our gift to you.

Source: Based on a What People Actually Want This Holiday Season survey of 1,000 U.S. adults from October 26, 2022 to October 27, 2022.

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Gift Cards Are the Favorite Gift by Far

The number-one gift requested by moms, dads, grandmothers, and grandfathers is … a gift card! And it wasn’t even close. Gift cards were the most-requested gift across the board.

Almost 33% of respondents picked gift cards as their most-wanted holiday gift. Here’s how it breaks down across the generations:

•   Moms: 39%

•   Dads: 31%

•   Grandmothers: 34%

•   Grandfathers: 27%

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The Type of Gift Card You Give Makes a Difference

There are all kinds of gift cards to choose from, including gift cards for restaurants, stores, and airlines, to name just a few. So, as you get ready to shop and celebrate the holidays without blowing your budget, which type should you get for your parents and grandparents?

A gift card that can be used anywhere, like a Visa gift card, was the top choice, selected by:

•   45% of moms

•   44% of grandmothers

•   40% of grandfathers

•   38% of dads

The one group that wants a different kind of gift card? Moms ages 35 and up. They preferred a gift card to a retailer like Target, Amazon, or Walmart.

The way gift cards function is similar to how credit cards work, since your parents and grandparents can use them to buy whatever they like. Perhaps that’s why they were so popular in our survey: Your relatives can pick out exactly what they want.

Skip the Fancy Jewelry

You might think mom would be thrilled with luxury goods like an expensive necklace, bracelet, or earrings, but jewelry is actually at the very bottom of her list. When asked the gift they wanted least, most moms (22%) said fine jewelry. Dads agreed — 21 percent chose fine jewelry, such as a watch, as their least favorite holiday gift.

Grandparents also said no thanks to fine jewelry:

•   26% of grandmothers picked it as their least favorite gift

•   21% grandfathers chose at gift they wanted least

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom

Here’s what Mom wants most:

•   A gift card: 39%

•   No gift at all — she just wants to spend time with family: 14%

•   An experience (like a concert or vacation): 10%

•   Clothes or shoes: 9%

•   A homemade gift like a photo collage: 7%

•   Electronics: 6%

•   Jewelry: 6%

•   Home goods: 5%

•   Donation to a charitable organization: 3%

•   Beauty/Health products: 2%

Holiday Gift Ideas for Dad

Here’s what dad wants most:

•   A gift card: 31%

•   Electronics: 14%

•   No gift at all — he just wants to spend time with family: 12%

•   An experience (like a concert or vacation): 12%

•   Clothes or shoes: 10%

•   Jewelry: 9%

•   A homemade gift like artwork: 5%

•   Donation to a charitable organization: 4%

•   Home goods: 2%

•   Beauty/Health products: 2%

If you’re thinking about getting dad the electronics he wants, but you don’t have the cash to pay for the gift upfront, applying for a credit card, and charging the electronics to it, is an option you may want to consider.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Grandmothers

•   A gift card: 34%

•   No gift at all — she just wants to spend time with family: 22%

•   An experience (like a concert or vacation): 12%

•   Clothes or shoes: 8%

•   A homemade gift like artwork: 6%

•   Electronics: 5%

•   Jewelry: 4%

•   Donation to a charitable organization: 3%

•   Home goods: 3%

•   Beauty/Health products: 2%

Holiday Gift Ideas for Grandfathers

•   A gift card: 27%

•   No gift at all — he just wants to spend time with family:14%

•   Electronics: 12%

•   An experience (like a concert or vacation): 10%

•   A homemade gift like artwork: 10%

•   Clothes or shoes: 8%

•   Donation to a charitable organization: 8%

•   Home goods: 5%

•   Jewelry: 4%

•   Beauty/Health products: 2%

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Who Buys the Best Gifts?

It’s unanimous: Moms, dads, grandmothers, and grandfathers all agree that their spouse or partner is tops when it comes to choosing holidays gifts. No other person even comes close.

Who Gives the Best Gifts?

•   Spouse/partner: 37%

•   Parents: 18%

•   Friends: 10%

•   Siblings: 9%

•   Other relatives: 9%

Whose Gifts Rate the Worst?

Ranking at the bottom of the best gift-giver list: In laws and bosses. Only 4% of respondents said their mother-in-law and father-in-law give good gifts, and just 1% said their boss does.

Regifting is Real — and It Can Be Pretty Awkward

There’s a lot of regifting going on: 41% of our respondents admitted they’ve done it. But when the tables are turned on them, things can get a little uncomfortable. Fortunately, many have a sense of humor about it.

Almost 1/3 of Moms Have Been Regifted a Gift They Gave First

•   68% thought it was funny

•   32% were hurt, annoyed, or mad

Yet this didn’t deter them from doing it themselves: 38% of moms have regifted what they didn’t want. Most of these unwanted gifts were from friends.

Almost Half of Dads Have Been Regifted a Gift They Gave

•   71% thought it was funny

•   28% were hurt, annoyed, or mad

Dads are even more likely than moms to regift: 47% of them have done it — mainly with presents from distant relatives.

Lots of Unwanted Gifts Are Sitting in a Closet Someplace

When they get a Christmas present they don’t want or need, the overwhelming majority of respondents said they hang onto them, rather than exchange them. This was the answer chosen by:

•   80% of grandmothers

•   79% of moms

•   74% of grandfathers

•   70% of dads

So Whose Gifts Do They Take Back?

Of those parents and grandparents who return or exchange gifts:

•   Moms are most likely to return gifts from friends

•   Dads are most likely to return gifts from parents or other relatives

•   Grandmothers are most likely return gifts from distant relatives

•   Grandfathers are most likely to do return gifts from distant relatives or coworkers

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Plenty of Moms and Dads Are Wishing for a Vacation

If you splurge and get your parents a trip as their holiday gift, expect them to waste no time in packing their bags. Of the moms and dads who chose an experience as the gift they most want for the holidays, a vacation was at the very top of the list.

While paying for a vacation can be expensive, you might want to think about splitting the cost with your siblings or putting it on your credit card to help cover the cost. This is one reason why getting a credit card can be helpful when you’re buying holiday gifts.

Time Together Might Be the Greatest Gift of All

You may not need to get your parents a lot of presents (besides a gift card, that is!). A number of moms and dads who took our survey said they wanted family time over the holidays more than anything. In fact, for moms, spending time with family is their second most-wanted gift.

For dads, family time came in third. Electronics like gaming systems edged it out slightly.

Grandmothers and grandfathers want to spend time with family most of all. Each of them chose it as their second favorite gift option.

The Takeaway

One specific holiday gift will please your parents and your grandparents this year: a gift card. Not only does this make your shopping easier, but it gives your loved ones exactly what they want. A gift card that can be used anywhere, like a Visa gift card, is what the respondents to our survey wanted most.

If you’re looking for other gift options, dads are partial to electronics, like gaming equipment, and both moms and dads would be happy to find airline tickets for a vacation in their stocking.

As you’re doing holiday shopping for your family, you can get a gift for yourself at the same time. With a credit card from SoFi, you can earn generous cash-back rewards on all purchases. For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.

Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.


Photo credit: iStock/seb_ra

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 10/1/22 12:01 AM ET to 12/31/22 11:59PM ET

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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