Have we eroded the joy of gift giving?

Ruth Jackson
christmas shopping
christmas shopping

Rampant consumerism means we are all spending more and more on Christmas every year. This year we are each expected to spend an average of £350 just on presents, according to research from ING.

I have no problem with giving and receiving gifts at Christmas, in fact I love it. The Christmas list starts to be written in late August. But, what I really can't stand is how calculating some people have become. The list I start writing in summer is what I am going to buy for other people, not what I want.

That's because the real joy of Christmas for me is carefully choosing gifts that I think my family and friends will love. But it seems I am a dying breed if the press release I've received from Harvey Nichols is anything to go by.

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Telling people what you want is not on

The upmarket department store has released a range of 'Could I Be Any Clearer?' greetings cards for the festive period. "They say Christmas is all about the giving, but Harvey Nichols believes it's all about the receiving too," says the release.

These Christmas cards wish recipients Seasons Greetings but also tell them exactly what the person wants for Christmas. You can personalise the cards online with additions such as "Seasons Greetings...will be very awkward if you don't get me a pair of Charlotte Olympia silver Octavia sandals. They're the platform ones with the 6" heel. Size 4 ½ or a 5, if that's all they've got."

Yep, that's right a Christmas card containing a (light-hearted) threat – "Get me these very expensive shoes or I'll make Christmas miserable for you". What a truly hideous notion that stamps a huge smelly foot on the joy of Christmas.

Christmas isn't about you

Firstly, Christmas isn't about you. If you are religious it is about Jesus, if you're not then it is about other people. This is a holiday that is all about seeing friends and family and enjoying one another's company. Not showing how much money you've got (or in many cases how much debt you can run up).

So, making demands for presents makes you selfish and ungrateful for the thought people put into gifts. What if what you demand in your Harvey Nicks card is far beyond the budget of the person who gets the card?

Secondly, I admit it isn't much fun when you get a gift that makes you wonder if the person giving you it has ever met you. But those are the gifts that make for stories that last a lifetime and you can always return it if you can get the receipt, exchange it if you know where it has come from or sell in online.

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Bad gifts part of the fun

My family can't get through a single Christmas get together without tales of the cartoon character rucksack given to a middle-aged cousin or the whiskey given to an elderly relative who wasn't allowed to drink anymore. Bad gifts are part of the fun!

I do have some relatives who hate the idea of buying presents without checking what you want first, but that is their choice, I don't force demands upon them. And if asked I'm more than happy to come up with a couple of suggestions.

Finally, spending £6 on six Christmas cards from a luxury store also means you fail on another element of the festive period – helping those less fortunate than yourself. Charitable giving is important at Christmas, even Scrooge worked that out in the end. One of the easiest ways to donate at Christmas is to buy charity Christmas cards.

So, avoid the Harvey Nichols cards and send charity ones instead. Not only will you help out a worthy cause, you'll also avoid irritating everyone who receives one of your cards.

If you do decide to send "Could I Be Any Clearer" Christmas cards I really hope you wake up to lumps of coal on Christmas day.

What do you think? Is the author right to criticise adults who demand a specific gift? Or is that actually a more efficient process, preventing recipients from ending up with things they'll never use? Let us know in the comments section below, or get in touch on Facebook.


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