Prosaic Holiday Preferences

It’s not just that people buy more stuff during the holidays. They buy different stuff—things they’d never imagine purchasing during the other 11 months of the year. Whole sectors of the consumer-electronics, apparel andpottery industries have grown up around this fact. The principle seems to be that “Aunt Louise would never buy such-and-such for herself, so I’ll buy it for her.” But prospective recipients may not be so fanciful in theirholiday-gift wishes. The chart here, based on a survey by Rasmussen Research, indicates as much. A digital camera sounds nice, but it’s certainly less exciting than a robot to do one’s chores—let alone a solar-powered lawn mower. As for the more practical high-tech items, 61 percent of the respondents said it’s better to buy wireless devices and other electronic organizers on one’s own rather than to get these items as gifts. When asked to rate various electronic gifts, people gave the highest “excellent” vote to a laptopcomputer like the Apple iBook. A computer game system (such as the Sony PlayStation Two) was the runner-up in that respect.Ewing Galloway/Index Stock/Picture Quest