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Why I’m saying no to Christmas presents this year

Is there an alternative to buying mountains of Christmas presents? After years of wondering about it, our colleague Vik Iyer (aka Scrooge McDuck) has finally persuaded at least some family members that it isn’t a good idea. So, what are the arguments and issues involved in changing the way you do Xmas?

We are very lucky in my family – everyone is in work and if we spend sensibly then we can afford treats. With the adults in the family working and earning, it has become increasingly difficult to buy each other Christmas gifts.

Struggling to think of presents I want

Why? There is no official cap in our gift giving but I suspect - with the odd exception - we are shopping largely in the £20- £50 per gift bracket.  And, over recent years, I have actually struggled to think of anything I really want in that bracket beyond vouchers. In terms of other gifts, I just ask people what they want. My parents and in-laws again seem to have as much difficulty as I have in deciding what they want.

My wife and I also agree on what to buy each other (as I’m sure many others do) – it doesn’t quite feel like this fits the ephemeral and mysterious Christmas spirit everyone goes on about.

The result is a lot of presents that - if we are being brutally honest – simply do not get used a lot, in the main. Even with the ones that do, we could all have probably bought them ourselves.


All change this year

After a few years of complaining about it, my family are now starting to come round. This year, quite a few family members have agreed not to bother getting me anything. A few years ago I think that might have caused a fair bit of controversy – I guess perhaps that is the power of tradition backed by the seemingly endless marketing that goes on.

Whether my position will influence others will remain to be seen, but I do hope our presents pile will reduce down to a more sensible level – although I still want my chocolate money!

The spirit of Christmas

So is this a scrooge-like anti Christmas message? I don’t think so. In my view, Christmas is a time to catch up with family and friends. Losing the stress and money involved in presents exchange might actually make the festive period even better.

Of course not every family is the same. If you know a gift will really help someone out or that they will really love it, then I would definitely still get it. If you have younger children, then of course you will want to treat them to something.

A savings alternative

Another colleague tells me that, in his extended family, instead of buying the younger members presents, they all contribute to a savings account set up for each person. Teenagers are possibly the hardest people to buy for and this idea means that nothing goes to waste (well at least until they start spending the account!).

Recent research from suggests UK shoppers spend £88 on themselves compared with £66 on mum, £61 on dad, £42 on a sibling and £32 on grandparents.

I think in some senses we get stuck in a kind of autopilot with regards to Christmas, even though the dynamics of our families change throughout the years. Some of you will have toddlers running around, others teenagers.

My advice is to make sure the money you are spending - and the presents you are getting - have a purpose. Otherwise you could be incurring needless stress and, even worse, debt.

What do you think?

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  • james wales / 27 June 2018

    Hello Admin Can You suggest Some amazing Gift For Christmas
    Am waiting for Replay

  • Gordon Hazel / 27 December 2015

    I like a lot of others fly in fly out workers had Christmas on site, I did not even bother going into the mess for the big meal they put on, nice of the company but I am not interested. We did not bother with presents this year for the adults, and not even bothering with birthday presents anymore either. Christmas for us is about catching up with family. If I am at work, someone has to be there, it allowes someone else to enjoy Christmas off, so one still get to give. I am rebelling against the relentless consumerism and would rather give to a charity instead. I am surprised at how many others seem to feel similar about it. Takes a lot of stress away too !!

  • Alison / 16 December 2015

    I agree that time with family and friends is the most important thing. We love to give to the grandchildren, too. I also love to have news from friends; I really would miss the Christmas cards.

  • jose / 14 December 2015

    for me you came a bit late, I am doing that years ago, I don't buy a present for anybody, because I don't like to put friends and family in stress buying present, when maybe they are struggling with money .

  • Brian Suanders / 14 December 2015

    I invite my friends to give blood instead of presents if they are able to

  • Mon / 13 December 2015

    My partner and I choose not to go through the endless stress of what to buy each other at Xmas. Instead we will treat each other through the year to things we need/want. Also we put the money towards holidays which means we managed to have 3 decent holidays per year. We buy for the grandchildren and our mums but that's about all

  • angela / 13 December 2015

    your budget for prices to pay out on presents is way out of my league and many others i would think i set a budget of £15 to£ 20 on each present . with 3 children and partners plus 6 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren even the married grand children now have to share with their partners to cover the extra now with their families making my shopping list getting ever longer a set state pension for 1 just can not keep being stretched ever further

  • Sunrise / 13 December 2015

    Yes, it is all far too commercialised these days. I have only bought presents for under 16 year old close family members for years. No one seems put out by it..... The shopping and wrapping is no longer an epic marathon, so it is much more enjoyable. The time spent with family is far more important than a showy display of unwanted presents.

  • Clare / 13 December 2015

    Christmas has become a mainly commercial festival, about consumption and profits for big companies, and to me, represents the worst in our Society. I prefer to keep it low key, give and recieve small token presents, or none at all, and focus on the things that are REALLY important, like loving, honest communication with Family and Friends and making sure vulnerable
    people are safe and cared for.

  • John / 13 December 2015

    Have a leap Christmas a really good one every 4 years, and just celebrate with family and friends the other 3

  • helen goodrum / 13 December 2015

    I absolutely agree with you here. Christmas is a marketing exercise and a stressful time for everyone. We buy gifts for birthdays and christmas for the kids in our extended family (nieces, nephews etc) but when they get to 21 or if children are produced at a younger age the pressies stop. As parents we buy for our own grown up kids still but not in the same way. More about helping with life expenses (also more expensive than the usual Xmas stuff!!!!). It has to be 'horses for courses' , after all we al have our own different family sizes, ages etc. but I don't think the Christmas spirit is helped by a never ending supply of bubble bath, socks and perfume that you won't ever wear. Enjoy the family time without the stress.