In business and in marketing discussions, ‘managing expectations’ is important and quite common.

The point is to let people know what to expect so they are content with things. For example, if people know it will take two weeks to have something delivered, they’ll be happy with to arriving in 12 days.But 12 days would be irritating if you expected it in 3 days.

What about Christmas expectations?

Small Christmas gift sitting on a large present - what Christmas expectations are being set?

The size of a gift can raise expectations…

Managing expectations is not a term I’ve really thought about in relation to Christmas (or other gift times of year), but it makes sense to think about it.

Have you ever had expectations about Christmas that were not met or (happy days!) exceeded?

High expectations fail

I remember once that I was given some hints that I would get an iPad for Christmas, and I was quite pleased about the idea. And quite disappointed when I didn’t get one on Christmas Day. Had I not heard those hints, the lack of iPad wouldn’t have bothered me at all so it was false expectations that caused the disappointment.

It’s a bit like the child getting a huge gift, only to discover that there is a box inside a box inside a box… The child would be a mix of emotions – excitement over a large gift, disappointment over it not being so big, excitement over lots of layers to unwrap and the surprise of finding whatever was in the middle. My Dad did that to me once – the final gift was very small, but as it was a key to a car it was also a very big gift!

Low expectations succeed

Via jcc81’s comment in a recent post, I heard of a great way to set low expectations, and thus provide excitement on Christmas Day. Imagine children watching you wrap some junk for them and seeing those gifts under the tree for days and weeks… Only to discover some other gifts were placed under the tree on Christmas morning!

 Managing Christmas gift expectations

So letting children know in advance that they may not get everything they want, not even everything they wrote to ask Santa for, is a good way to keep them happy with what they get on Christmas morning.

I think that is a good lesson for them anyway – there should be more to Christmas than the gifts. They need to learn that they can’t always get what they want.

Have you ever really thought about managing Christmas expectations?