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Formerly Free Postcode Lottery

Ban unnecessary presents?

by Chris | News, Rant

This video of ITV’s Martin Lewis Live caught my attention a few months ago, but I was still denying the end of summer and the immediate start of Christmas. This morning’s “How was your weekend?” was met with retail-induced groans. We should talk about this.

Every year my family get in touch with each other asking for “wishlists” (of things that we want so little that we can’t be bothered to buy ourselves) so that we can cross each other off our todo lists. This year we’re relieving the administrative burden by using a “secret santa” service, which is now emailing us demanding our wishlists…

I know that some people can’t afford to buy the things they want, in which case, gift-giving is great. As Mr. Lewis suggests, this was its original social function. As a teenager, Christmas was pretty much my only shot at getting Super Mario Kart. I love giving my three year old gifts, but thats because she’s not yet worked out that most things are space-sapping rubbish.

To me as a grown-up, Christmas is about people who love/like each other getting together and having a laugh without worrying about work. The gifts are a distraction. In fact, I don’t like the fact that these people are wasting time, energy and money trying to find them for me. I want to relieve the burden. Perhaps, as Martin suggests, that can be my gift to them.

I think gift-giving is best when it is spontaneous. Rather than managing lists it should be about spotting something that you think a loved one would like, regardless of what commercial holiday is next on the calendar. Most grownups should make a pre-Christmas No Unecessary Presents Pact, or “Pre-NUP” (Martin’s joke, not mine!), and perhaps combine it with a commitment to think about them often enough to spot something that they don’t yet know that they want.

Let’s make sure the kids have something to open, but I think we should also consider how much is too much. Another side of my family have a system. For each child, one grownup is tasked with buying something they want, another gets something they need, another something to learn from, and lastly, something to read. That has been very effective at keeping the plastic tsunami at bay.

On a totally unrelated note… Keep your eyes peeled for next weeks’ posts about Black Friday. I’m aware of the hypocrisy.

What do you think? Am I being Scroogey? Your perspectives and tips are more than welcome 🙂

Chris