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    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

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    Last edited by Former MSE Lawrence; 30-11-2009 at 2:33 PM.
Page 2
  • clur152
    Martin - thanks for this article! As I am single and trying to manage a home and still maintain friendships and family ties through visits, I have found additional outgoings for Christmas and birthdays really difficult in the past few years. I have felt like a Scrooge so often and had decided this year was the year I would try and make a pact with people not to do the obligatory present swap. Thanks for backing me up - now to break the news to everyone!
    • neesee
    • By neesee 11th Nov 09, 8:51 AM
    • 4 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    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.
    Originally posted by DComedian
    I do exactly the same - and i can live with people thinking i'm odd. I have, however put more emphasis on birthday presents - but don't expect presents for my birthday - at 50+ having some flowers is nice but there's nothing I need and I'd prefer my children and elderly parents to keep the money for themselves
  • mumslave
    you know, christmas drives me barmy, I am possibly the most disorganised person on the planet, made tentimes worse by having the memory of a gold fish and three young children. Every year sees me wandering around the shops chanting what will i buy, what will i buy with a glazed deranged look in my eyes and drool down one cheek. Every year I never feel I have bought anything decent, its always an anti climax. But i wouldnt have it any other way. For all it stress, commercialism and so on, christmas has given me some of the happiest memories I have and yes the exchanging of gifts is part of that. I dont think it should be an obligation no, but a ban is extreme.

    Sealed Pot Challenge Member 1189
  • socngill
    We have finally done something about it this year. Between me and my wife we now have 24 direct family members (not including aunt's, uncles etc) and we have another child due on 23rd December (already got 5 and we have one on the way - but don't tell anybody!). As a result the last few years we have spent over £600 each year and it was getting out of hand. We have told people we are only going to be getting the children presents this year as it is just getting ridiculous. I didn't give people the opportunity to argue about it, just told them they won't be getting anything so don't get us anything.

    What most people don't realise is that it isn't just the presents. We live in Plymouth and my family all live in Oxfordshire. Nobody comes to see us, we always go to see them. It costs about £100 in travel and food etc and we are still expected to come armed with presents.

    Well, not this year!
  • grandholm
    I'm years ahead of you Martin!
    I gave up the Christmas present nonsense many years ago. I had been made redundant and I made it clear to the whole family that I would not be buying any Christmas presents and that they were not to waste their money buying any for me. We have continued with that because they all agreed that it was a waste of money!

    All you are doing is buying someone something that they probably neither want nor need and they do the same for you. It's stressful trying to think what to buy and it all has to be done by a certain date. If I want to buy something for a family member, I do it at any time of year when I see something that I know they will like - not expensive items usually.

    Use the money to buy presents for your own children or treat yourself, if you can afford to, but don't waste it on exchanges of (in many cases) useless/unwanted gifts.
  • LJH75
    Agree with Martin's comments - there's a lot of pressure and obligation at Christmas. We decided in my family a while ago that cards are potentially a waste of money and eventually get thrown away anyway, so we get a book for around the £3-4 mark (which is the cost of some cards) and sign the inside cover instead. Means the receiver actually gets a present and card all in one. We’ll be doing this at Christmas for the adults and nothing else and pooling money to get something for the kids and Christmas dinner. Not getting anything for outside the family. Seems everybody is in the same boat anyway.
    • haggisneepsandtatties
    • By haggisneepsandtatties 11th Nov 09, 9:25 AM
    • 23 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    Very, very interesting read. I stopped work this year to go to University, and subsequently, have little money. I spoke to all my friends and told them that I could not afford to buy Christmas presents for them and their children, and all, apart from one, were really good about it. Most of my friends were actually feeling the pinch themselves, so we made an agreement not to buy presents for each other and each others children. The friend that did object, said to 'buy something small' for her daughter, however, if I had bought something small for one child, then I would have to buy something small for all the children! I explained that, and my friend replied 'Well dont expect anything yourself if you cant be bothered to buy anything for my little girl'. Whilst I never expect presents off anyone at any time, I think this just sums up how many people see Christmas, and I think its such a shame.
    • Pound
    • By Pound 11th Nov 09, 9:41 AM
    • 2,677 Posts
    • 1,338 Thanks
    I agree with this and believe or not I've been having similar thoughts recently.

    Apart from maybe some new socks I really feel like I have everything I need. But this Christmas I expect people will still rack their brains for what to get me and I'll receive gifts that I don't really need or want. Perhaps I'll get some cologne to add to the three nearly full bottles I already have or maybe a book I won't read or other miscellaneous gifts that will be donated to a charity shop next time I have a sort out. I'd rather people just saved their money.
  • Mousehunter
    I also suggested a no presents policy to my family last year. It actually worked out pretty well, we just brought along things that we could use on the day like cheese and wine. I've always refused to participate in secret santa at work which led to a few comments but I'd rather have that than add even more junk to my house.
  • penny41
    I have been a BAH HUMBUG for a few years now after decideing to give christmas up, and feel very relaxed about this time of year now.
    Not so long ago I took a tramp in over Christmas, my family and friends were appaulled, brings to mind season off good will !!!!!!
    My adult children get money and are happy about this, they can buy what they want, all i ask for is a cup off tea !
    I dont even send cards and oh the joy of not filling my bin with rubbish,
    The one thing i have not found at this time off year is a christmas free haven
    any ideas...
    On a serious note i became very depressed in this season and found the whole thing stressfull...
    • cepheus
    • By cepheus 11th Nov 09, 9:58 AM
    • 19,216 Posts
    • 20,338 Thanks
    Humbug! Ban Christmas altogether!

    No seriously, this is an excellent article, the most important bit is here and discloses how companies exploit consumers especially around Christmas. Of course this line of reasoning is their worst nightmare.

    We’re spending money on unneeded, unwanted and unused goods; that’s not good for our finances, and doesn’t help the environment, as it just clogs up landfills
    With regards to cards, perhaps we could send Ecards. There must be a version on facebook? For physical cards, why not have a truly recycleable card where you just rub out the previous name and put in you own?
  • anthony_hunt
    What a load of hogwash!

    You've simply cited a list of bad ideas as reasons to not do something good.

    Should I stop driving because others steal cars, use their phones while driving, have tatty cars or cause accidents? Sorry, but that's a poor argument.

    I ASK my friends and family what they'd like for Christmas and what THEIR budget is and buy for them accordingly and where they don't have a budget, we just meet up and exchange pleasant company instead.

    Surely Christmas and the exchange of presents is an opportunity to COMMUNICATE with the people you care about and see them and make them happy and by extension make yourself happy. All this "must have" nonsense is driven by the media and other shallow and grasping individuals.
  • hannahs
    Banning presents can work - charity is the way to go!
    My family stopped giving presents to each other 4 years ago (adults only, kids still get pressies!). Instead, we started to buy charity gifts from Oxfam, GoodGifts, etc. or we make cash donations to charities of our choice.

    This has worked really well and after the first year we decided to carry this on permanently. Obviously, the charities benefit greatly and we all make donations at a level we can afford (we don't tell each other how much - that's not the point of giving) but we still get the enjoyment of opening cards and finding out which charities other family members have chosen.

    It's much nicer than receiving unwanted and unnecessary gifts, you still feel like you have received something but it's much more worthwhile. Nobody feels like they're missing out and I think it's something a lot of people could encourage rather than just saying "don't buy me a present and I won't buy you one".

    And it takes all the stress out of Christmas shopping so everyone's happier!!
    Last edited by hannahs; 11-11-2009 at 10:27 AM. Reason: I forgot to add a comment
    • MountainMan101
    • By MountainMan101 11th Nov 09, 10:27 AM
    • 74 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    What about those people who enjoy buying gifts. Just because you buy a gift doesn't mean you've fallen for commercialism. Yes the chocolates are over prices, but I'll still buy a box of fancy chocolates for my aunt - she's been an aunt all year and Christmas is the best time to thank her.

    My wife is much tighter with how much she spends on her family, and this year I'm going to over rule her if she starts being tight and going halves with her sister on a chopping board for her mum.

    I love spending a whole day each year looking for something that the person will enjoy/find useful.

    Having said that, I completely agree on the waste of time presents where two women exchange earings / necklace and neither of them ever use them. But I think that says more about the people involved than the gifts.
    • Mercenary
    • By Mercenary 11th Nov 09, 10:38 AM
    • 613 Posts
    • 467 Thanks
    Thank you , Martin, for writing what I have thought for years!
    Every year, when the television adverts begin trying to get people to spend huge amounts on stuff 'just for Christmas' and the shops start displaying a tide of useless 'gifts', then my heart sinks and I get quite grumpy at the blatant commercialism of it all.

    It is so depressing that even in this age of recession there are those who will unthinkingly buy the rubbish on offer simply to tick a box on their gift list (whether or not the recipient would want it :confused and maybe run up debts in order to do so. The car boot sales are always packed with unwanted gifts after New Year so what is the point?

    We all decided long ago that it is pointless trading unwanted presents just for the sake of it. So we give gifts/cash (under £30 each) for the few children in our immediate family only, and maybe a token something-to-open (limited to under £5) for the 3 elderly adults. Then all of us will enjoy the Christmas Day lunch and the family being together in one place again.

    And that is what Christmas should be about. A Family Gathering.
    Last edited by Mercenary; 11-11-2009 at 10:43 AM.
  • goldingwebb
    I've never celebrated Xmas!
    For religious reasons I've never celebrated Xmas, but I've never felt like I'm missing out.

    Having time off work at home with the family is great, and even better because no-one is under pressure to overspend or pretend that they like the unwanted presents they've received!

    Nowadays when I see how commercial Xmas has gotten I think that I would probably stop celebrating it, even if I didn't know it's pagan roots. Buying gifts for each other at unexpected times of the year is more special and personal and means so much more.

    I feel glad that I don't contribute to the many unwanted items that end up as landfill, whose manufacture has contributed to pollution.

    We still enjoy snuggling up with choccies and watching the usual films, but with a clearer conscience and less debt!!!
  • skint&demoralised
    I have to agree with Martin on this one. I come from a large family, as does my wife. We have been buying presents for nephews and nieces for years but stopped doing so when they reached the age of 18. They are now getting married and having their own kids and the cycle seems to be starting where everyone else in the family is buying for their (Nephews/nieces) children and therefore by default we are expected to follow suit. I have 18 nephews/nieces so you can see the problem.
    • LameWolf
    • By LameWolf 11th Nov 09, 10:58 AM
    • 10,953 Posts
    • 120,439 Thanks
    Great article! I now feel vindicated. We stopped buying any presents at all a few years back when my husband was out of work for 11 months (we'd only just recently got together at that time) and we've carefully never started again.

    We don't even buy each other presents as such - rather, we put our heads together and see if there's something we could do with that both of us will enjoy, and we pay half each for it. If we can't think of something that fits the bill, we put it on hold until something occurs to us. No money wasted, no embarrassingly kitch presents, no trolling round crowded shops.
    If your dog thinks you're the best, don't seek a second opinion.
  • TurkishDelight
    I've got to admit this does make me a little sad. I don't have many people to buy for admittedly, but with the exception of my Grandma and Uncle (who are very stuff driven people, and would be very hurt if I didn't make a effort) they all have hard lives.

    We buy them stuff that they can't justify buying for themselves, and they do the same for us.
    We've also had practical presents, like last year when my MiL bought us a new duvet.

    The gift thing is a expression of caring- you have got a thoughtful gift.
    I would probably agree that if you can't find anything wanted it might be better to not bother though

    By the way- they have managed to consumerise giving nothing as well:
    Last edited by TurkishDelight; 11-11-2009 at 11:33 AM.
    This is my opinion. There are many others like it but this is mine
    Fiancee of the "lovely" DaveAshton
    I am a professional ebay seller. I work hard at my job, I love my job, if you think it's silly that's your problem not mine.
  • Sarah Urquhart
    Why Violet Needs the Necklace

    I love this article! However, I must point out the flaw in the example given of 'loaded' Sharon and 'skint' Violet's gift exchange. If, as is suggested, Violet is a hard working mother, who sees the majority of her income go to supporting her children and replacing worn out shoes, surely the one thing she deserves at Christmas time is a pretty, if non essential, necklace from her friend? The problem you have raised - that economically unequal friends feel obliged to give gifts of equal value - is a real one. The solution - that neither give gifts - is logical but does little to provide emotional comfort to either women. Rather, Violet needs to free herself from the great social burden of expectation to give presents of equal value. Violet should buy Sharon a small gift worth about £5. Sharon, who is apparently 'loaded' will still be happy to still give the £20 necklace. Often better off, childless friends and family members find that Christmas is a time they can spoil loved ones in a way that at any other time of year it might be embarrassing and perceived as charity. To suggest the women agree not to give gifts is to deny them both a great pleasure and a form of bonding. Where change is needed, rather, is to fight our attitude of competitive gift giving and revisit the notion of giving with love at a price we can afford.
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