The real meaning of Christmas is often expressed as being about giving to others during the season. Giving can take many forms, but during the Christmas season the most obvious way in which giving is done is by preparing beautifully wrapped Christmas presents for family, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, teachers and others such as business clients.
The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is believed to have started with the Three Wise Men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the practice of giving gifts as is common today, evolved from a retail strategy that involved Santa Claus and attracting children into stores. For that reason, giving gifts at Christmas and during the holidays has been centered on children.
Giving gifts during Christmas started in the early 19th century when the celebration of Christmas was restored after a period when the Protestants in England banned Christmas celebrations. In 1820 to 1840 when Christmas celebrations regained popularity, stores started to advertise special Christmas shopping promotions. At the same time, newspapers also created advertising sections solely for holiday shopping advertisements. These special advertising sections had prominent displays of Santa Claus.
In 1841 when a store in Philadelphia had a life-size model of Santa Claus, hundreds of children turned up to get a look at Santa Claus, which had become a new and popular element of revitalized Christmas celebrations. The interest in seeing Santa Claus provided a marketing idea to retailers that they could attract children and parents to stores through offers to have a look at a 'real' or 'live' Santa Claus. Because of that marketing strategy to attract children during Christmas, the focus was therefore to give Christmas presents to children.
Today, gift-giving is still focused on children, but adults are as much popular recipients as children. Within families, the focus on children is evident in the fact that an individual child will get more gifts than any other individual adult member of the family. For young children, who are particularly delighted and enchanted by the holidays and Christmas festivities, toys are usually the gift given. Among older children, clothes and electronic gadgets are popular items to give as Christmas gifts.
Adults are the ones however, for whom there is the widest range of items that can be given as Christmas presents. An item that will make a good Christmas or holiday present to just about any adult is a decadent box of chocolate or holiday cookies. This is enjoyed even by those who are diet-conscious because, they can be sugar- and, or, fat-free or also low in carbohydrates. At Christmas time also, many people tend to temporarily disregard any strict diet rules that they are following and so they welcome and enjoy any type of Christmas treats heartily.
According to a survey done in 2004 by the National Confectioners Association, 90 percent of 1,000 adults who were surveyed responded that giving or receiving a box of chocolates and creating or receiving a stocking filled with goodies were among the top three ways they enjoyed candy during the winter holidays. A third way was having candy that was placed in a dish, which indicates that having sweet treats at Christmas time is generally enjoyed by a broad cross-section of people.
Aside from family members and friends, it may also be a nice gesture to give a holiday or Christmas present to colleagues at work, teachers of your children and based on your profession, to business clients. The primary reason to give any of those categories of people holiday or Christmas gifts is likely to express appreciation. For that reason, a holiday present of goodies or treats would indeed be a sweet gift to give.