Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    Former MSE Penelope
    Is it time to ban Christmas presents? Blog and poll discussion
    • #1
    • 10th Nov 09, 5:11 PM
    Is it time to ban Christmas presents? Blog and poll discussion 10th Nov 09 at 5:11 PM
    This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog and poll. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

    And the vote results:

    Is it time to stop giving Christmas presents?

    Christmas has become a retail festival, celebrated by spending and shopping. Is it time to stop the sending of presents to reduce the pressure and obligation on others who can’t afford to spend on you? (For a full discussion see Martin’s Time to Ban Presents? six point manifesto)

    Which of these is closest to your view?

    A. We should stop giving presents to everyone (bah humbug) - 8% (1150 votes)
    B. Limit present giving just to your own kids - 18% (2441 votes)
    C. Limit present giving to immediate family – not friends or colleagues - 50% (6758 votes)
    D. Small gifts to a wider circle is fine - 16% (2241 votes)
    E. We should rejoice in giving as many and as big gifts as we can afford - 8% (1023 votes)

    This vote has now closed, but you can still click 'post reply' to discuss below



    What's interesting is to read the difference in the feedback on this from the times online version and here... see

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Last edited by Former MSE Lawrence; 30-11-2009 at 2:33 PM.
Page 1
  • 456789
    • #2
    • 10th Nov 09, 7:52 PM
    • #2
    • 10th Nov 09, 7:52 PM
    Very good article indeed -
  • chriswatts
    • #3
    • 10th Nov 09, 8:45 PM
    • #3
    • 10th Nov 09, 8:45 PM
    The of course there's always the gift card for those who can't decide what present to get someone and would thus like to tie the person down to one sometimes rather expensive store and stop them from shopping around to get the best price.

    It's nice to get one, but I do think the Christmas Gift card was designed by the Devil.
    • Bargain Rzl
    • By Bargain Rzl 10th Nov 09, 10:36 PM
    • 6,174 Posts
    • 21,392 Thanks
    Bargain Rzl
    • #4
    • 10th Nov 09, 10:36 PM
    • #4
    • 10th Nov 09, 10:36 PM
    "Ban" is a bit harsh. But otherwise I agree - I don't believe anybody should feel obligated to others gift-wise. I don't do Christmas presents outside my immediate family and very close friends. Even within that narrow circle, you buy those close family and friends SOMETHING, don't you, particularly if you know they will have bought you something back - but quite honestly, I might spend 50 on one family member and 5 on another. Both of these extremes would normally come about because I have found THE perfect gift, often several months in advance when I wasn't even looking for it.

    I know it's an old cliche, but I firmly believe that it's the thought that counts.
    Operation Get in Shape
    • dave4545454
    • By dave4545454 10th Nov 09, 11:22 PM
    • 1,870 Posts
    • 2,648 Thanks
    • #5
    • 10th Nov 09, 11:22 PM
    • #5
    • 10th Nov 09, 11:22 PM
    we haven't given xmas presents for many many years in my family. xmas is about spending quality time with your loved ones, not commercialism
    • GlasweJen
    • By GlasweJen 11th Nov 09, 12:23 AM
    • 6,796 Posts
    • 12,285 Thanks
    • #6
    • 11th Nov 09, 12:23 AM
    • #6
    • 11th Nov 09, 12:23 AM
    I buy for 15 people at Christmas, parents, grandparents (1 set), nieces (3), siblings (6 including bro in law), boyfriend and a general gift for boyfriends family (usually nice chocs and a bottle of wine); i also do secret santa at work. I like the tradition of gift giving but don't buy for non-family.
    Bounts, Quidco, Shop and Scan, Receipt Hog, Costco Cashback, Debit card cashback

    (unless it's on offer and can get my loyalty points)
    • Fran
    • By Fran 11th Nov 09, 12:54 AM
    • 11,017 Posts
    • 6,469 Thanks
    • #7
    • 11th Nov 09, 12:54 AM
    • #7
    • 11th Nov 09, 12:54 AM
    I hate the pressure of Christmas, not just the presents but the expectancy of spending more on fancy food and drink.

    It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't all at the same time. I've suggested to my family that we meet in the summer or time that isn't christmas to exchange presents and enjoy each others company in nice weather instead of a date near christmas when the weather can be shocking but they just say "...but it's christmas....". So what? They might (but probably don't really) think it's fine to spend loads more money than normal one month a year, but I don't. (Yes I do know you *should* be totally organised but the best intentions....).

    It's not just the money side though, there's all the people that are isolated or homeless. It's rubbing their faces in it, especially if they don't receive presents or have no-one to share christmas with.

    In order to exchange presents I have to travel (petrol) to meet family and come back over The Bridge (5.40 ) and post to the other side of the world (the lightest presents I can find) to my brother's family.

    Most common are gifts upon marriage or coming-of-age ceremonies and indeed, to my logic, this makes social and financial sense, as in effect it’s a form of prudent banking.

    For example, when someone is young and starting out in married life, others give cash or gifts to them as a start up fund, which is a net inflow of goods.

    As people age and tend to get more financially stable, they then give gifts to newlyweds, effectively paying the system back.

    It’s actually an efficient method for society to focus cash where it’s needed.
    Totally disagree with Martin here, a single person does not have the luxury of writing lists of required presents even though they go through life financially worse off (meaning they do not share bills, purchases and living expenses). Especially women who still earn less than men and also are more likely to give up careers to be responsible for children. As people age *now* the future of pensioners is an unstable and unpredictable thing and the numbers are growing. With unemployment rising where do the over 50's (could be over 40's, draw the line where you like) stand when trying to get these jobs that everyone is after? What about parents on low incomes whose children reach 18? They lose any Child Tax Credits once the child leaves education and Child Benefit follows soon after, yet the likelihood is the children are still costing the family money and it's hard for young single people too. I find it hard to find any "social and financial sense" for low income, single women.
    Torgwen.......... ...........

    I'm a volunteer Board Guide on Techie, Benefits & Employment, Energy, Small biz & Charities and Redundancy boards to help them run smoothly & I can move posts & threads but don't read them all. Dealing with illegal or inappropriate posts is not part of my role. Please report them to Views are mine not official MoneySavingExpert ones.
    • DComedian
    • By DComedian 11th Nov 09, 3:07 AM
    • 13 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    • #8
    • 11th Nov 09, 3:07 AM
    • #8
    • 11th Nov 09, 3:07 AM
    I gave up buying Xmas presents for anybody other than my nephew and niece a few years ago, and made it clear to friends and family that I didn't want to receive presents either, as that would just put me in a very embarrassing situation.

    The relief of not having to trawl round the shops in December desperately thinking what to buy for people , knowing that there's a fair chance that my gift might prove to be a waste of money, is immense. It's also great not to have to pretend that the gift you received on Xmas Day was just what you always wanted!

    On the other hand people think I'm a bit weird (but then they thought that anyway), and I'm sure that a few think that I'm just a miser. You have to be reasonably thick skinned to adopt the 'no presents at Xmas' philosophy.
  • Polly23
    • #9
    • 11th Nov 09, 4:24 AM
    • #9
    • 11th Nov 09, 4:24 AM
    Fantastic idea. A great article.
    • passatrider
    • By passatrider 11th Nov 09, 4:35 AM
    • 801 Posts
    • 762 Thanks
    we haven't given xmas presents for many many years in my family. xmas is about spending quality time with your loved ones, not commercialism
    Originally posted by dave4545454
    Here Here!
    • kippers
    • By kippers 11th Nov 09, 6:18 AM
    • 1,970 Posts
    • 6,034 Thanks
    A couple of years ago I discussed not buying birthday & xmas presents for neices and nephews that were over 18's in my family (as we have loads of them), except for big birthdays like 21st, 30th etc....i was shot down straight away. So yes, we carried on buying which was hard for us financially.

    During the last month we have 'told' everyone we shall no longer be doing it and this time they will have to get used to it. We are not on a big income and i'm fed up of my children having tiny presents at xmas so i can buy for others that don't even say thank you for the presents i buy!
    • gilligansyle
    • By gilligansyle 11th Nov 09, 7:00 AM
    • 4,105 Posts
    • 22,135 Thanks
    Not sure that 'ban' is the right word but agree with the principle. People get really stressed about what will be thought of them if they don't spend x amount.

    My sister and brother both have 2 boys of similar age, so we used to have the 'ritual exchange of lego' followed by the 'ritual exchange of xbox games' and the 'ritual exchange of itunes vouchers'.

    A friend without children got annoyed at the cost of buying for friends children when money was we agreed that we would not buy for each others children, except big birthdays. At Christmas selection boxes as a token gesture if we saw them actually on Christmas Day but not otherwise. Now they are all 16 and above, they don't get that anymore.

    For friends, only very close friends get presents. Some of my friends are on a lot more money than me, but as I make presents for them, they appreciate the thought that goes into them. So its not all about commercialism.
    I make a big square Christmas cake, and cut it into 4 small ones to give as gifts. Cheap presents wrapped in cellophane can look quite impressive too!
    Debts at LBM - Mortgages 128497 - non mortgage 27497 Debt now 114150109032 64300 (mortgage) Credit cards left 0

    "The days pass so fast, let's try to make each one better than the last"
    • skintandsad
    • By skintandsad 11th Nov 09, 7:02 AM
    • 904 Posts
    • 3,565 Thanks
    When I came up with the idea of not buying presents for adults in the family, some were in favour, some not.

    We all agreed that we would buy for the children, spending only an amount which was affordable to us, and my parents were agreeable to the "children only" gifting idea, and hubbies brother and sisters never bought for us anyway, but my hubbies parents wouldn't agree, nor would my sister.....they enjoy the act of giving, and both said that they didn't expect a gift in return. However, how can you not buy a gift for someone who you know will be buying for you??? :confused:
    I'm a nutter
    • Flickering Ember
    • By Flickering Ember 11th Nov 09, 7:08 AM
    • 11,623 Posts
    • 128,877 Thanks
    Flickering Ember
    I completely agree with you, Martin. Having said that, this is the first Christmas in a good few years that I'm giving physical cards out. I also am giving small gifts to 6 close friends only; it's a novelty chocolate item at just under 3 and it's going to be enjoyed and appreciated.

    I'm also taking someone out for a slap-up meal at a posh fish restaurant for Christmas, and they know I'm paying for all our food with Tesco Clubcard deals vouchers (drinks will have to be paid for in actual cash), and it's about spending quality time together. They don't care I'm using Tesco vouchers.

    People lose the sense of what Christmas is about. My cheap (and voucher-bought) presents, and the packs of christmas cards I bought for 50p each in this year's January sales, are going to give a huge amount of pleasure, given to close friends and family, on a day where we'll be spending quality time together. All this nonsense of "Ooh, shall we buy something for Robbie's auntie's husband's best mate because we met him once 6 years ago?" and "My kid is more loved than yours as we could afford to buy him a Wii" is bull, and not what Christmas is about.
    Flickering Embers grow higher and higher...I need a break and I wanna be a paperback writer!
    • Idiophreak
    • By Idiophreak 11th Nov 09, 7:29 AM
    • 11,636 Posts
    • 15,175 Thanks
    Have to say, I don't really agree with a whole lot of Martin's article (for once).

    I don't see many of the issues being relevant to a "proper" family/circle of friends that actually talks to each other openly etc.

    I've never felt any obligation to buy people presents. I buy them because I want to. If, on occasion, I've been skint, I've called people up and said "just so you know, I'm skint this year, so you'll be getting a cheap gift" - and then they've had the choice to cut back their gift, if they really do just by like-for-like...although, in practice, we tend to buy each other what we'd like to buy them, rather than this bizarre "value matching" scheme Martin describes.

    I've never felt any kind of hassle chosing gifts for people...most often I'll call up and say "can I have a list of things you'd like please", then buy something off that list - maybe not the "high thought" gift-giving many promote, but it means they get something they want, I get the warm satisfaction of giving them something they genuinely like and more importantly, as per Martin's article, I'm ensured I've got them something they like, rather than something that will sit in the cupboard til it's thrown out.

    Perhaps this all boils down to one line in Martin's post though:
    "Christmas gift-giving outside the immediate family doesn’t work that way" - and I have to say, I don't really do that at all...Not close to my non-immediate family, so wouldn't bother with anything more than a card...
  • chrissie55
    We don't send cards, or buy folk presents;
    This makes our Xmas relaxed & pleasant!
    We just get token gifts for stepsons (often car-boot bargains), like a posh shave-cream; they know we'll help if they're in need, but we don't do that crazy Xmas thing, which leaves us time to think about peace & goodwill & a tad of charity.....We eat whatever's cheap & good in Waitrose/Iceland on Xmas Eve! So many folk I see Xmas shopping look utterly stressed, & I've seen adverts offering 'a loan to spread the cost of Xmas' - Merry Xmas= a big debt? Nuts!
  • Schamansky
    Strikes a chord with me.

    In a nutshell: Why buy stuff

    - that nobody actually wants or is ever going to use
    - with money you could put to much better use
    - in order to keep up with some entirely irrelevant "Joneses"
    - and produce huge amounts of pollution and waste on the collateral.

    The meaning of Life isn't bought in stores.

    (... wait ... it is. Doughnuts.)
    Last edited by Schamansky; 11-11-2009 at 7:45 AM.
    • quaveriw
    • By quaveriw 11th Nov 09, 8:20 AM
    • 323 Posts
    • 533 Thanks
    I enjoyed reading this, puts Christmas into perspective

    I only tend to buy gifts for immediate family, my sister on the other hand buys for all her friends and I'm the one earning more. But, having said that one of OH's friends recycles gifts that she gets....
  • lisadupreez
    Great post.

    We do RECYCLING xmas present giving in our family. Basically, you are not allowed to buy a present for anyone. It must be something that you have already and think the other person would like, or something that someone gave you last year.

    In our house (my, DH, DD) we have a small box each and when we think of something we would like for our own birthday/xmas/mothers day/general niceness, we put a written note in the box. Rule is you are not allowed to open your own box. The other person opens your box and takes an idea out if they want to give you a gift. That way you get something you want - and maybe you forgot that you put it in there so a really nice surprise.
    If you want the rainbow, you've gotta put up with the rain
    • golddustmedia
    • By golddustmedia 11th Nov 09, 8:43 AM
    • 796 Posts
    • 374 Thanks
    Spot on Martin.

    I separated from my wife a bit over a year ago and last Christmas I very much got the feeling that choosing a present for my daughter was a battle between my ex wife and I to see who could get her the best gift.

    I've decided I'm not being drawn into it and instead I focus on doing nice activities with my daughter throughout the year so she enjoys the time we spend together. For me this Christmas a gift to her will be something modest to mark the occasion but not a case of want want want. After all I've learnt this year she's actually just as pleased to receive a 6 summer dress as a 50 dolls house at Christmas and I suspect the dress gets more use!
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

91Posts Today

912Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Have a great Easter, or a chag sameach to those like me attending Passover seder tomorrow. I?m taking all of next?

  • RT @rowlyc1980: A whopping 18 days off work for only 9 days leave! I?ll have a bit of that please......thanks @MartinSLewis for your crafty?

  • RT @dinokyp: That feeling when you realise that you have 18 days of work and only used 9 days of your annual leave! Thanks @MartinSLewis h?

  • Follow Martin