Christmas: A time for giving

Give and take, actually. Christmas is full of unspoken family rules about present buying. Who are your staple recipients, who gets a higher budget, what can you actually afford. Even what does that person deserve.

Last year I posted about a family member who crosses me off their ‘shopping list’ because they had heard I wasn’t buying presents. I did end up buying everyone a small gift each as I felt I wanted to acknowledge them all! There was a little confusion and this one family member was embarrassed that I hadn’t let them know and that they hadn’t bought me anything. This is fine because I do not buy to get a present back. Just a thank you is a nice acknowledgement.

Anyway, this year the same family member made a comment (almost a complaint) that they felt obliged to buy a gift in return for receiving one. This exaplains the year before, however I felt I needed to share that although I am always thankful for receiving and I never expect it, I didn’t feel a pressing need to go and buy a present in return.

I explained how money, time and size of family can play a part in my thinking and my value of Christmas present buying itself.  I like to give thought to gifts and spend time with people rather than buy some rubbish they dont actually want or need! The family members reply was that I could go to Poundland and buy anything, just something, in return. The point was evidently missed. I choose not always return with a gift!

The people who I buy for are the people who I feel are a part of my everyday world. I give to them because they are kind people who deserve a little treat! I sometimes give a small chocolate or I offer to babysit, or even just give a framed photo of me and them. But I do not give because I know someone is getting me something or they have got something. If I didn’t think of you before, there would be a reason. Harsh but true!

Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert says:

“Perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present.”

I could not agree more. Do not buy gifts just to receive them and do not go overboard so that the recipient feels a need to return a gift as a way of saying thank you. You make the choice and the recipient should not pay to receive. It’s like getting a card in the post but having to pay for the stamp!

– Lauren

The difference between Present buying and giving

With Christmas passed by I have just given all of my new bits and bobs a home, whether I like it or not. There is such a pressure from society to buy presents for people and a culture of only buying a gift if we usually receive a gift.

A family member was told I wouldn’t be buying gifts this year (why anyone needs to pass on that information I don’t know) and so they decided to cross me off of their present buying list. However just before the big day I did go shopping and purchased small gifts for everyone including the said family member. So on Christmas Day they proceeded to tell me that they were awfully embarrassed that they hadn’t given a gift to me in return and the apology was quite long winded. I of course tried not to make a fuss in return because I don’t give to receive. The same as I hope people don’t buy me presents in the hope of an exchange!

This is what highlighted the difference between buying a present and giving a present. I have a lot of people I see regularly in my life who I often receive gifts from at Christmas. But there is a difference between the gifts in that some people really know me as an individual and give lovely gifts so suited to me and others give a gift because they had me on their list. I gratefully accept any gifts as it’s rude a to reject or act ungrateful. But the truth is sometimes I am ungrateful of the lack of thought someone puts into gifts! We shouldn’t feel a need to buy things just to wrap – a token gift. We should be totally fine with ourselves and others not investing money into unsuitable gifts. I would rather not give a gift than to give something that had no thought. A nice card with a handwritten message should be enough!

Giving a gift is a kind act of thought and love. When you give somebody a gift it’s because you want them to have it and it made you think of them or vice versa. Giving a gift can be priceless and often they are the best gifts. I personally love to give gifts that are forever lasting and keep on giving. Things that are unique, timeless and nonreturnable. Of course we can’t always do this for everyone we know because of time restrictions and that horrible pressure to make sure everyone receives equal sized and quantities of gifts.

For the next year I am going to think really carefully about the people in my life and what they like, what their personalities are like, what lifestyle they live and just get to know them better. So that for Christmas 2015 I can give really thoughtful gifts and do away with the buying presents just because I need to wrap them something. Boxes of chocolates will not be present on my shopping list!

I also have a habit of only shopping for people at Christmas and not making an effort for their birthdays. This is the wrong way! Christmas shouldn’t be about presents its not a celebration for our own existence like a birthday is. Maybe big changes are coming for the future…