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Monday, 31 October 2011

Christmas presents: to give or not to give...

'More Presents!' photo (c) 2005, Aaron Jacobs - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
So.. I just had an interesting, errrr, 'debate' with my husband. To be fair this is not a new debate, it has reared its head several times in the last few years - usually at my insistance, I just can't seem to help myself... As soon as the subject of Christmas comes around we discuss whether it would be better to give the gift money to charity or a needy cause, rather than buying tat for our nearest and dearest.

Most of the people we buy Christmas pres for are financially blessed. They really don't 'need' anything tangible (if they did I would feel better about this whole debate!), or anything that we could buy. Kids that we buy for, have ooodles of presents, on top of the already overflowing toy boxes. It seems to me totally wasteful and wrong to be buying presents for these people when we could be really and truly blessing a family that is in need, or providing food for a starving family, or sleeping bags for the homeless. The truly in need.

My husband totally disagrees with me and so far we have not managed to come to a compromise. we have done things like buying gifts from charity shops (marginally cheaper, but lower class of tat...) or for own own kids asking people to combine to get a larger gift that we couldn't afford. This is all well and good, but doesn't solve the wider argument. My husband believes Christmas is the perfect time to be showing Gods love and by blessing those around us with a gift, (tat ot not). I understand where he is coming from but I feel that our nearest and dearest are far more blessed by coming to spend time with us as a family, sharing lunch, dinner, Christmas day etc, and equally we are all blessed by that too.

What really gets me is the needless waste of money Christmas is. Our parents are not easy to buy for. they have all they need and are usually unforthcoming about present wishes (if there are any). The huge number of kids on our lists are all very blessed and do not need any more toys! other random adults tend to get random books or other tat, as we have no idea what to get them.

I would much rather bless those truly in need but am I being too 'bah humbug' about this? are there better ways to bless people at Christmas, or is it just about giving, regardless of the gift?


T.C. said...

I am completely with you on this one! We have forewarned our own kids it is going to be a major scale down gift-wise, but have promised that we will make it a Christmas to remember with cost-free family fun days! (ideas gratefully received!)

We cut out, at my insitance, buying for adults years ago. So it's just the nieces and nephews and they get cut out at 18, and if I had my time again with my own kids at a young age, I would never go down the Father Christmas route!

Crumbs as I type this it sounds really miserable!

Alan Crawley said...

Yep - hate to think of the tat I have given over the years. This year the wider family have suggested secret santa which seems a good way out.

nicolahulks said...

How about homemade gifts? A friend at work is making people Christmas decorations. I sometimes give sweets I've made (peanut butter cups in a charity shop tin for my Mother-in-law who loves Reeces cups!) I also keep my eye out over a longer period of time now and then tend to spot stuff I know they will really love. I like giving 'proper' gifts rather than charity one because it seems more personal. How about buying from fairtrade suppliers if you want to do both?

Nancy Wallace said...

I think there needs to be a measure of agreement between people who usually exchange Christmas gifts with each other before deciding unilaterally not to give - otherwise people get hurt. Agreeing a maximum spend is one way. I like Nicola's suggestion of home-made gifts - these can cost very little and tend to be much more appreciated than expensive tat.

Perpetua said...

We went down TC's route many years ago, both with not swapping gifts with adults other than parents and children, and not giving to children once they reach majority (except that I still have a fondness for the 21st birthday) We discussed it with the adults (my sisters and DH's brothers, who were actually relieved not to have the problem of what to give us.

Home-made gifts are appreciated (I specialise in hand-knitted socks which take a lot of time and effort but very little money) and others I know give sweets and baked goods.

joyteach said...

We've had a long time as Christians to decide not to celebrate Christmas and Yule at the same time but still we do it - at least in our hemisphere.It can make for such a mad rush of card-writing, present-giving, dinner-making and so on that we can feel deprived of the time to celebrate Jesus' birth properly and there's the inclination to cut out something such as present-shopping. I wonder how many people notice whether or not they've had presents from everybody? I sometimes consider doing Yule and Christmas alternate years and wonder who'll notice so long as I put the decorations up. I've not had the nerve to try it yet.Yes, it's a good idea to give hand-made goods,especially as they are fashionable now. Also if it's something like a bag or a box you know the person can use it regardless of whether or not they have a lot of things already. It works whether or not people ar difficult to buy for. You can work on them over a year,too .Another idea is to see if there are things they use often and wouldn't mind two or more of. I have found amazon.co.uk gift vouchers handy because then recipients can decide what they want for themselves or whether they want to use it to send off for something to give to someone else. All the gift-giver knows is whether the voucher has been redeemed, not what was done with it. It is so much fun sending off for things without guilt - I love vouchers myself and I don't sniff at money either. I too don't give gifts for over 21s unless they're still in full-time education. Students don't mind being given money. National Garden vouchers are good too because then the receivers can spend them on something for their own house or garden,a gift for someone else,a bouquet for a loved one or taking a friend out for tea.

Red said...

thanks guys, loads of ideas there! being a creative type I did use to make presents but to be honest I haven't the time or energy any more! Since I wrote this, one friend volunteered the suggestion that we only do the kids this year, which was music to my ears! before then I have 2 small peoples birthdays to cover (first party tomorrow..) so am going to bury my head and deal with those first!