Christmas is finally here. Thus, once again, we have gathered some tips from the behavioural science to make your Christmas celebration one to remember. Whether you are celebrating a traditional Christmas with your own family, or perhaps with your in-laws that certainly doesn’t know how to celebrate Christmas properly, we guarantee that by following our simple tips, you will be able to make a memorable impression on your lucky company. Should you instead be isolated in a romantic quarantine, we recommend reading our recent blogpost with tips on how to create an unforgettable Valentine’s date, which you can find here [1].

 

Christmas is truly a special time, offering all kinds of different joys worth looking forward to. For some, the joy is in the many solemn traditions, for some it is the lavish stream of Christmas goodies, and for others the joy is wrapped in pretty wrapping and ribbon. For most of us, however, the combination of all these traditions is what makes Christmas such a solemn and joyful time. Whether you celebrate Christmas on the 24th or 25th of December, we imagine that you usually spend it more or less the same way every year. While making sure you do just that most likely will ensure a successful and traditional Christmas, we dare to say that it might not always be enough to make it truly unforgettable.

Think about it. How well do you really remember last year’s Christmas celebration or the one before that? Thus, once again, we have searched the unusual and quirky corners of behavioural science to make sure this year’s Christmas will be unforgettable — and not just for you, but for your loved ones as well. Just follow our instructions — plain and simple.

Consider it an early Christmas present from us at iNudgeyou.

 

1. Bring out your ‘Christmas spirit’ — and no, you cannot buy one

Over time, Christmas has become more and more affected by consumerism. Today, we buy the food ready-made at the deli, presents pre-wrapped online, plastic ornaments from our favourite department store, a Christmas tree in wrapping from the local garden centre and perhaps even the evening’s entertainment in a game retailer. Yes, pretty much everything we gather around for at this ‘special’ evening is wrapped and bought conveniently for us to satisfy our needs for traditions, familiarity and nostalgia, without it being too much of a hazzle to do so. 

However, not surprisingly, a study by Kasser et al. finds that this materialistic approach to Christmas is completely wrong and can be detrimental to your own and your loved ones’ well-being and joy [2]. Instead, the study points towards spiritual or religious family activities as a way to create more joy and happiness. You could, for instance, prepare a nativity play for everyone to participate in, fold paper decorations on time, or perhaps bring out the carol songbook at every opportunity — that should bring you well on your way towards a joyful Christmas spirit.

 

 

2. Consider your loved ones’ long-term goals 

Although celebrating Christmas is a special time, it really doesn’t have to be greasy and bad for your health. Especially if you are responsible for the food and table setting yourself, we, as behavioural researchers, believe that you have a responsibility for considering your guests’ long-term goals.

Most of us want to live and eat healthier. However, that can be very difficult during the holiday period. In fact, two studies with 2000 and 3000 participants respectively, show that we gain an average of between 500-800g during the Christmas holidays [3] [4].

Fortunately, it does not have to be so. In fact, research shows that we eat less when we are served smaller plates or smaller portions [5] [6]. Moreover, we have previously written a blogpost about how to ensure that your guests drink less simply by changing the table setting [7]. We must, however, admit that it might feel strange and inappropriate for some, if you as a guest begin to rearrange the table setting with smaller sizes — although it seems perfectly natural to us.

Therefore, you could instead offer everyone at the table to make them a portion or perhaps even better, offer to bring some of the food yourself. That way, you can easily switch out the unhealthy dishes with low-fat and unsweetened options instead, and thus, spare everyone a hefty number of extra calories.

That’s not just good Christmas spirit — it’s good karma too! If your loved ones won’t thank you now, they surely will in the future.

Just wait and see!

 

3. Give personalised presents

Usually after the Christmas feast, we Danes have tradition for dancing and singing around the Christmas tree. Un Fortunately, the pandemic seems to have put a stop to that at least this year, which really isn’t too bad since exchanging gifts is what we do next. Therefore, let’s wrap up the silly traditions and unwrap the next tip.

As you probably know, we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. And as the story goes, the wise men came on Christmas Eve with presents for baby Jesus, hence the tradition of giving presents, which we still do today. Surely, here in the days leading up to Christmas, you have pondered about which presents to buy.

Well, ponder no more — we will give you the answer!

Although this answer might not be very pleasant to hear, we really recommend that you don’t buy anything. Rather, you should make something yourself. According to the “effort heuristic”, we value presents more when we know effort was put into finding or making the presents. In other words, the recipient will appreciate the present more if it is homemade, artisan or was otherwise difficult to obtain, as opposed to quick and easy to purchase [8]. Furthermore, research suggests that instead of buying a shortly enjoyed extraordinary present, one should give something that can be used on a daily basis [9]. For example, a wooden paper towel holder or hand-knitted sweater will both show the effort you have put into the present, while at the same time act as a daily reminder of your close relationship and time together. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving and if that won’t ensure a memorable Christmas Eve, we really don’t know what will.

And with these tips, we believe that you are all set up for a Christmas worth remembering. Thus, there is not much else to say than merry Christmas … and you’re welcome.

Happy holidays and lots of love from us at iNudgeyou 🎄

 

 

References:

 

[1] iNudgeyou (2020). 5 tips + 1 bonus tip to make your Valentine’s date one to remember. Retrieved [16/12/2020]. At [https://inudgeyou.com/en/tips-to-make-your-valentines-date-one-to-remember/].

[2] Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2002). What makes for a merry Christmas?. Journal of happiness studies, 3(4), 313-329.

[3] Garrow, J. (2000). Christmas factor and snacking. The Lancet, 355(9197), 8.

[4] Helander, E. E., Wansink, B., & Chieh, A. (2016). Weight gain over the holidays in three countries. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(12), 1200-1202.

[5] Rolls, B. J., Morris, E. L., & Roe, L. S. (2002). Portion size of food affects energy intake in normal-weight and overweight men and women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(6), 1207-1213.

[6] Holden, S. S., Zlatevska, N., & Dubelaar, C. (2016). Whether smaller plates reduce consumption depends on who’s serving and who’s looking: a meta-analysis. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 1(1), 134-146.

[7] iNudgeyou (2017). 7 Nudges to Avoid Adult Binge Drinking at X-mas. Retrieved [16/12/2020]. At [https://inudgeyou.com/en/7-nudges-to-avoid-adult-binge-drinking-at-x-mas/].

[8] Behavioural Scientist (2017). How to Enjoy (and Survive) the Holidays Using Behavioral Science. Retrieved [16/12/2020]. At [https://behavioralscientist.org/enjoy-survive-holidays-using-behavioral-science/].

[9] Ask Ariely (2015). On Lasting Gifts, Pre-engagement, and Incentivizing Scientists. Retrieved [16/12/2020]. At [https://danariely.com/2015/05/09/ask-ariely-on-lasting-gifts-pre-engagement-and-incentivizing-scientists/].

 

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