It’s a classic holiday scene: You unwrap a brand new game console, complete with all the games on your wishlist. After weeks of waiting, it’s time to sit back, cocoa in-hand, fire up the machine, and…wait for all of the updates to load. Maneuvering through setup screens and software updates is the worst part of opening any new tech gift, which is why some gifters take it upon themselves to take care of handling the menus and updates ahead of time. But is that a good idea?
When someone opens a gift, they want to be able to use it right away, especially if that gift is super fun, like a game console or a phone, and the recipient is an impatient child (whether in age or temperament). If you unwrap a Nintendo Switch this year, you’re going to want to pop in Mario Kart or Zelda and get playing ASAP. You might even remember when that was the norm—from the NES to the GameCube, as long as everything was plugged in correctly, all you needed to do was throw in a game, hit the power button, and prepare to have fun. Not anymore.
Tech gifts used to be simple to set up
The march of progress means tech gifts offer more features and abilities each year. But those additional features usually mean setting up your system or gadget takes more time, what with connecting it to the internet, micromanaging your settings, signing into accounts, and, most time-consuming of all, installing software updates and patches.
It’s especially bad for game systems. You turn on that Switch, set up everything, then install any OS updates necessary to run the system. But even when you think you’re done, and you go to play a game, you have to update the game as well. And because everyone and their mother is trying to update their brand-new Switch at the same time, you run the risk of overloaded servers, which means you’ll need to wait for them to cool down. The whole process puts multiple barriers in the way of the recipient actually enjoying the gift—barriers that could have been avoided if everything was setup ahead of time.
So the question is this: Should you open your giftee’s device and set it up for them, or let them deal with the updates themselves? Over on Reddit, this is a hotly-debated topic. On the one hand, you’re saving them a lot of hassle on the day. They still get the tech they asked for, and they’ll get to use it right away, without staring at a sea of setup pages and loading screens.
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On the other hand, some people prefer to set up their devices themselves. I know I fall into this category: When I get a new device, whether that’s a game console or a phone, I like going through the tedious process of configuring my settings to my liking. I find installing software and updates satisfying (although I certainly don’t like waiting for them to load).
If you want to update first, here’s how to go about it
So you’ve chosen to update the gift. Maybe you know your recipient will want to jump right into the fun, and will loathe the tedium tied to the initial setup. Maybe you’re doing it for a kid, who doesn’t care if the box has been opened. Whatever the case, my advice is to try to limit the customization during setup. Save the personalization for the owner of the device to figure out, since they’ll want to pick things like their profile picture, system theme, etc. Take any opportunity you can to skip certain setup options. Remember: Your goal is to update the software for both the device and any accompanying program (namely games), not to get everything how you think they’ll like it.
The other important step is to preserve the packaging as best as you can. Even if the giftee doesn’t mind their you setting up the device for them, no one wants to unwrap a gift that feels like someone else got to it first. Unbox only the elements necessary for initial setup, and keep track of how everything was packaged so you can put it all back how it was (as best you can).
So where do you stand on this point of tech gifting etiquette? Do you install updates and software ahead of time, or would you rather have them open the gift as-is, no matter how long setup may take? Defend your stance in the comments.