Americans rate the fruitcake as "the worst gift," give presents to people they would prefer not to and see holiday shopping as a "Mad Mad Mad Mad World."

They expect to spend an average of $600 on presents, don't expect to wrap up until the night before Christmas, yet insist it is more fun to give than to receive.These are among the findings of a series of holiday shopping polls by American Express, Best Products and Liz Claiborne Fragrance.

They found that while shoppers hate big crowds, jammed parking lots and long checkout lines, most take satisfaction in finding the perfect gift for that special someone.

When asked by American Express to characterize their feelings about holiday shopping in terms of six famous film titles, the majority, 40 percent, picked, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World."

"The Agony and the Ecstasy" placed second, 15 percent, followed by "Babes in Toyland," 13 percent, and "Against all Odds," 8 percent.

Respondents said it is generally easiest to select gifts for children and toughest to pick one out for their significant other, whether it is a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend.

The fruitcake was named "the worst gift" in the survey by American Express, with 31 percent of the respondents picking the classic present as a Christmas bummer.

Finishing a distant second in this category was "no gift at all," 18 percent, followed by a "gift you have to assemble," 17 percent, "a damaged gift," 12 percent, and a tie or blouse, 6 percent.

Even so, the survey by Best Products found that 80 percent of Americans get the gifts they hoped for. As givers, they expect to purchase gifts for an average of 14 people and spend about $600.

It also showed that 21 percent plan to give gifts to someone they actually would prefer not to, 89 percent say it is more fun to give than receive, and that 84 percent won't complete shopping until the final hours.

The survey by Liz Claiborne Fragrance, cited in Working Mother magazine, found that 66 percent of holiday shoppers buy the same gift for several people to save time and money.

Thirty percent of those surveyed by American Express said that they deal with unwanted gifts by simply "hiding them in the closet."

The Best survey asked people to characterize their attitude toward holiday shopping.

Thirty percent said "loves it and will `shop `till you drop,' " 20 percent said "hates it and will make your purchase and get out" and 44 percent said they can "take it or leave it." Six percent said, "Don't know."