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4 out of 10 Brits will fake it when receiving bad Christmas presents this year 

·        5% of Brits find it harder to lie about a shameful gift than about a secret love affair

·        Fake Face Guide: Psychologist Dr David Lewis reveals how to spot a fake face of joy

·        Ridiculous Christmas jumpers, diet books and sex toys among top 10 gifts Brits dread the most

London, 17 December 2014. For some, Christmas gifts are more of a torture than a thrill. New research has found that of the average eight Christmas presents Brits receive, they usually loathe two. Across the country, this amounts to a whopping 104 million unloved gifts and an estimated waste of £4.4 billion*. This was revealed today by the ‘Get Christmas right this year’ study.

The survey, which asked 2000 adults about their Christmas triumphs and failures, found that the gifts Brits dread most include Christmas jumpers, diet books and vouchers for plastic surgery, whilst the oddest presents ever received range from light bulbs to condoms! However, Brits are not without a dark sense of humour as a quarter of us confess to having bought a gift we are certain will be detested by the other person. 

Most of us are far too polite to say if we don’t like a present, with 96% of Brits saying they would rather lie than admit they hate a gift. But there are ways to catch a festive fibber as acclaimed psychologist Dr David Lewis has put together a ‘fake face guide’. 

He commented: “When spotting a fake face of joy after giving someone a present, the key is to use your eyes rather than your ears. The same applies when thanking someone for the unwelcome gift you have just received. To avoid spoiling the festive mood you should learn how to lie as effectively with your body as with your lips.”

How to spot a Fake Face:

1. Head rub

People unsure of how to respond to a bad Christmas gift tend to smooth down the hair at the back of their head, which often turns into a head rub.

2. Shrinking smiles

A fake smile uses only the muscles around the mouth while a genuine smile involves movement of the entire face including the jaw and the cheeks.

3. Timely thank you

Pay attention to the timing of the smile: If someone smiles after telling you how much they ‘love’ your present – rather than at the same time – they are probably lying.

4. Hidden twitches

A tightening of the jaw muscles often occurs when someone is lying – so be on the alert for increased tension in this area. Face-touching, nose scratching, ear tugging, mouth covering are also tell-tale signs.

5. Petit pupils

True delight is reflected by a widening of the pupils – when they narrow when opening a gift it could be a sign of displeasure.

6. Covered eyes and ears

Covering the eyes, however briefly, may indicate a reluctance to look at the gift any more than they have to while even briefly covering one ear suggests a disinclination to hear what the giver has to say.

7. Frozen torso

People being deceptive tend to ‘freeze’ up; this is meant to prevent ‘leaking’ negative emotions and could well indicate fake gift joy.

8. Crossed arms

People vary greatly in the extent to which they use their arms in conversations. When faking pleasure a person who normally had fairly relaxed arm movements may adopt a defensive posture by crossing their arms and locking them in place. This is the exact opposite of the open, palms-out stance associated with truth telling.

9. Locked ankles

Legs are the hardest body parts to consciously control – making them good indicators of true feelings. A person faking delight may rub their thighs to sooth away any tension. Locked ankles and crossed legs (when seated) indicate discomfort and potential deception.

10. Motionless hands

Hands create gestures, known as “illustrators”, when speaking the truth. A lack of hand gestures, clenched fists and folded palms could portray faked emotions, so too could exaggerated gestures.

How to fake it, and get away with it:


1. Do think of the happiest moment in your life when unwrapping a gift – don’t focus exclusively on the gift itself. That way your body language will all be genuinely positive.

2. Do give the giver direct eye-contact as you speak your thanks. This will compel them to give you eye-contact in return so preventing them from observing other aspects of your body language.

3. Do stand fairly close to the giver – up to an arm’s length away. That way you will appear more trustworthy.


1. Don’t engage in the ‘head rub’.

2. Don’t make a gap between saying how much you like the gift and smiling – this must happen simultaneous.

3. Don’t touch your face, especially by even briefly covering your eyes when thanking someone for a gift. 

Top 10 Christmas gifts the Brits dread


               All                                                                   Men                                                             Women

A ridiculous Christmas jumper (24%)          Gaudy ties (29%)                                        A diet book (25%)

A diet book (22%)                                           A ridiculous Christmas jumper (28%)     Tacky ornaments (22%)

Voucher for plastic surgery (19%)               Cartoon socks (24%)                  A ridiculous Christmas jumper (21%)

Cartoon socks (19%)                                      A diet book (18%)                             Voucher for plastic surgery (21%)

Tacky ornaments (19%)                                Voucher for plastic surgery (18%)                  Cheap tat (19%)

Gaudy ties (17%)                                            Tacky ornaments (15%)                                     Sex toys (18%)

Clothes that are too small (16%)                 Clothes that are too small (14%)      Clothes that are too small (18%)

Cheap tat (16%)                                              Cheap tat (13%)                                     Unfashionable clothes (16%)

Sex toys (14%)                                                 Food that is out of date (11%)             Food that is out of date (15%)

10 Food that is out of date (14%)                   The wrong team's football shirt (10%)       Cartoon socks (15%)

*According to the ONS (Office of National Statistics) there are 50,501,583 people over 18 year living in the UK. The survey found, that out of the 8.39 Christmas presents Brits received last year, they disliked 2.06 and estimate the value of these at £87.30. This totals to 104,033,261 bad presents worth £4,408,788,196.

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