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  • FIRST POST
    Former MSE Penelope
    Is it time to ban Christmas presents? Blog and poll discussion
    • #1
    • 10th Nov 09, 6:11 PM
    Is it time to ban Christmas presents? Blog and poll discussion 10th Nov 09 at 6:11 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

    Thanks

    ADDENDUM - TIMES2 and RADIO2

    What's interesting is to read the difference in the feedback on this from the times online version and here... see http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6911334.ece

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    Last edited by Former MSE Lawrence; 30-11-2009 at 3:33 PM.
Page 3
    • sandieb
    • By sandieb 11th Nov 09, 12:33 PM
    • 726 Posts
    • 615 Thanks
    sandieb
    Brilliant article.

    I personally wouldn't want a ban on Christmas presents but I have now downsized Christmas and buy small token presents for 5 and under (items considered by the shops as stocking fillers).

    It's been a huge relief. Mostly we have too much STUFF.

    Birthdays are different - I spend rather more on them.

    I don't want to HAVE to buy "things" at Christmas ... I'd rather give spontaneously when I see the right thing for the right person.
  • glam60gran
    we as a family cut back 2 years ago - was suggested by my brother - thought it was a bit mean at the time - but he has 2 granchildren and I have five - so we only buy now for our own immediate family - but do buy for birthdays - it has taken the presure off us all - more so our children, who have large mortgages. I also insist my children do what they want at Christmas - not like my generation of having to go to one set of parents one year and the others the next year. It works well for us.
    • cymro
    • By cymro 11th Nov 09, 12:43 PM
    • 80 Posts
    • 25 Thanks
    cymro
    Wow I have been thinking this for years and now somebody has put it in writing - Thanks Martin. Christmas has become very much a retail festival - shops selling Christmas items in August is a complete turn-off. I hear of millions of people putting themselves under all sorts of pressure to meet this massive expenditure deadline of 25th December - many of whom cannot afford it. If you really want some retail therapy save your wonga until the New Year sales.
  • Suzinger
    Don't do the gift-swap thing!!
    I love this article and agree completely with what you are saying Martin. I don't tend to go for this gift-swap thing. But what I do, like last Christmas for instance is make family and friends a Christmas cake or buy really useful things, things that are needed rather than just buying for the sake of it.

    I agree with the suggestion of buying for newly weds and coming of age as they are really significant times when buying gifts for them really does make a difference. But if we are all honest, if there was something we really wanted, surely we would go out and buy it for ourselves??

    Christmas really has lost all its meaning and that is really sad. If only people focussed on the real meaning of Christmas.
  • ebenezerella
    Christmas is very commercial. No presents at all seems very Scrooge like so a set cash limit on presents within a family or a Secret Santa where everyone buys a present for a fixed amount either for a random recipient or a named one seems a good solution.

    Having a birthday to sort in December is a bummer as too much is also spent on birthdays. Flowers and a cake is good. Everything else seems too much.
    • icecoolbabe
    • By icecoolbabe 11th Nov 09, 12:48 PM
    • 1,325 Posts
    • 705 Thanks
    icecoolbabe
    I'm sick of Christmas already. All the shops are decorated and selling mostly TAT - yes it IS mostly tat - done up in lots of packaging. The shops are already heaving with people buying all this rubbish and the endless loop of Christmas music is enough to make anyone lose whatever Christmas spirit they started out with.

    (At the risk of upsetting the many Boots fans - why exactly are the Christmas 3 for 2s seen as such good deals? Much of the stuff is cheaper to buy in Boots and elsewhere without the fancy packaging!) Ditto for all the other stores. As for BHS, I cannot even bear to go in there - such is the rubbish by the entrance that poses as someone's Christmas gift.

    Does anyone reading this actually WANT strange flavoured oils and all the other weird flavoured jams and chutneys? Champagne or whisky flavoured jam for goodness sake in a tiny jar stuffed into a box of tissue with another equally awful concoction.)

    The shopping centre nearest to me has an enormous tree up and all the decorations. They look lovely - but the little kids think Santa is coming this week! Cue... tantrums galore.

    Meanwhile- at work - I'm being pestered to decide if I want to go to the 'works outing' - (no - I do not). And aaargh! The secret Santa list has again appeared.

    Then there's all the offers to spend X amount just to get free postage or some other small discount. I wonder how many people then spend up to that amount just to get the free postage or discount.

    A bargain is only a bargain if you were going to buy the thing anyway.

    As for Martin asking if Christmas should be banned? It's only a matter of time before it is. No doubt someone somewhere is already dreaming up reasons as to why it's offensive to someone.
    Last edited by icecoolbabe; 11-11-2009 at 12:56 PM.
    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • GraciesGran
    We stopped buying presents about 7 years ago, the children were working adults and were in a position to buy what they wanted. We do secret santa instead with a 10 limit. I buy presents for my grandchildren/step grandchildren once again with a 10 limit - set by their parents. We use the Christmas holidays as a time to get together and have fun - we go to London to look at the lights, we go to the Pantomime. We are making the Christmas cake this weekend, late I know but it's the first time we've been able to get together.
  • harrumph
    I've just come back from the shops where I went to take back a birthday present from friend and been given a credit note which I will use to buy something for the person who bought me the present, when it is her birthday. I suspect that my gift was a similar "deal" as it came from same shop I bought her last present. What a ridiculous farce and waste of time. As for Christmas, my heart sinks when they start putting out all the trash, October time, in the shops and the result is a stubborn desire to spend absolutely zero.
    • bargainbetty
    • By bargainbetty 11th Nov 09, 1:10 PM
    • 3,103 Posts
    • 7,148 Thanks
    bargainbetty
    For physical cards, why not have a truly recycleable card where you just rub out the previous name and put in you own?
    Originally posted by cepheus
    My family and I do this for a laugh every now and again. My flatmate reused a birthday card as a Father's Day card by crossing out and re-writing bits.

    We re-use present bags too, and one has now lasted four years. Small bag, obviously.
    Some days, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps....
    LB moment - March 2006. DFD - 1 June 2012!!! DEBT FREE!
    MFW - Joined May 2012, aiming to cut the mortgage by an extra two months every year. (Overpaid 3000 so far)
    , only 11 years to go.

  • brokeinwales
    I'm not sure the answer is "banning" gifts, so much as trying to address the cynical cash-centred attitude that seems to surround their giving.

    If people do have some kind of crazy "she spent 20 on me so I have to spend 20 on her" obligation, then it's that attitude that needs abnning, rather than the gift giving itself, which is a lovley gesture between friends.

    So if Sandra (or whatever her name was!) buys Violet a 20 necklace, and Violet spends 2 on the ingredients to bake a delicious cake for Sandra - what on earth would be wrong with that? If Sandra has a problem she wouldn't be a very good friend. Generally the people one buys gifts for are people you care about and communicate with regularly, so you're relationship is unlikely to be based on a cynical like-for-like exchange.

    I do, however, have a major problem with things like Secret santa in groups, and gift "whiprounds" at work, where you are more or less bullied into some pointless collective moneyspending ritual and the idea of choosing to buy a gift for someone you know and care about is completely lost. You may as well all just exchange fivers. Now that seems pretty cynical and scrooge-like to me.
    • savingmore
    • By savingmore 11th Nov 09, 1:15 PM
    • 360 Posts
    • 2,308 Thanks
    savingmore
    christmas
    i love christmas and always will. a few years ago in my family we did a 2 present for each adult and 5 for children. It was the BEST christmas present opening we ever did, as it was so much fun and we had planned it the christmas before so we all knew to look out for something special and meaningful to that person for 2. it was amazing what everyone came up with, it was a thought for the person often carried through the year and culminated with alot of fun on the day. my OH's family however hate the idea and for a few christmas we asked not to swop presents as we couldn't afford it and they really thought we were scrooge's, so this year we are back to buying tat for them as we don't want to upset them in the last years of their life..... it is such a pressure off when you know you don't have to do the 'they spent about 20 so we better'...it takes the meaning out of such a special time of year......this is what we need to deal with, taking the commercial pressure out of christmas, not banning things.....

    • earthmother
    • By earthmother 11th Nov 09, 1:18 PM
    • 2,535 Posts
    • 5,459 Thanks
    earthmother
    I'm not sure I'd want to ban christmas, but we definitely are simplifying it a little more every year. We have 18 adults and 14 children (including three of our own) in the family, so things have the potential to get silly.

    Each year the adults presents have become smaller, to the point where this year they are token gifts of only a couple of pounds, mostly homemade - and from the children not us - they don't feel right if Grandma etc doesn't get something to unwrap too. Everyone else in the family is of the same mindset so no-one gets upset.

    And this year, we're making life simpler with the children too - as all the nieces and nephews get older, they get harder to buy for - after all £15 on a 3 year old is 'amazing' and fairly simple to do, £15 on a 15 year old doesn't really buy anything and there's no guarantee you've bought to their tastes - so I've saved a little each month and they're getting money instead.

    I will admit it feels lazy not shopping for them all - in the past I've really enjoyed putting together bundles of things for each of them, but I also remember how busy and stressed each December would be, not so much with shopping as I've always picked things up cheap through the year, but spending hours wrapping it all, making sure A's present looks as good as sibling B's, trying to find a time when the various families schedules match up to swap carboot contents, and then trying to find places to hide what you've brought back each time.

    This year, we make some cards, bake some cakes, stuff a few envelopes and we're done - much nicer

    And all that wrapping paper I bought in the January sales now won't just get strewn across umpteen living rooms - we need some new paper chains - I've got enough paper to do the whole house
    Last edited by earthmother; 11-11-2009 at 1:22 PM.
    DFW Nerd no. 884 - Proud to be dealing with have dealt with my debts
    • heppy23
    • By heppy23 11th Nov 09, 1:22 PM
    • 477 Posts
    • 246 Thanks
    heppy23
    Good article. I work hard for the money I earn and dread the pressure to spend so much of it on one day.

    So much of the stuff you see in the shops is utter rubbish. Useless tat.

    I am personally dreading Christmas. We have the extended family round for dinner (what an obscene meal that ends up being), they all talk far too loud and I don't even get offered a seat in my own house when I've finished cooking and clearing up.
    Highlight of the day is taking one of the kids for a long walk in the pushchair - "He/she looks a bit flushed, better get them some fresh air".
    • opaque
    • By opaque 11th Nov 09, 1:27 PM
    • 179 Posts
    • 114 Thanks
    opaque
    I think the article is a bit over the top, and also adds in non-christmas stuff.

    If you are poor: you shouldn't be spending money you don't have/can't afford
    If you are worried about the environmental damage, don't buy presents, tell people not to get you anything
    If you want to only swop small gifts, get small gifts, Poundland is great and one of the 2 for 7 tins of chocolates from Asda last week would have been a great cheap present.
    If you have a large family just cut your present giving to those of a certain age or those you do actually see on a regular basis.

    Now thats over and done with what about the rest of us?
    Maybe we want to have a good time? I personally once, a few years ago didn't have any ideas of what I wanted for Christmas and ended up being given utter rubbish, (much more towards the useless presents mentioned that you might default to) so each year since then I have been putting more effort into giving presents, not receiving. I give my parents lots of presents, from a big one (hamper) to small things (small trinkets, dvd's bought very cheap) as well as chocolates etc, all individually wrapped, that stretches out the fun and love of Christmas. I also give presents to many people at work without the expectation of getting anything back. It's more about the feeling of giving and caring about others, and making people happy. That's a great present in itself.

    Also if you are on this board you can easily buy something expensive for a big discount. The person receiving the gift will think you spent the full price and think you very generous, without the need for you to actually be so.


    I enjoy the whole period of Christmas. Yes the stuff in Boots is overpriced and silly (so don't buy it) but part of the fun is just looking round all the shops, seeing what there is and enjoying just that. You don't need to buy everything you see. It's especially great fun very close to Christmas just walking around watching the mad people frnatically buying things as you walk past supping a hot drink totally relaxed.

    As for the girl who wanted the big party, limo, club etc. That sort of girl needs to be taught the value of money. If she's going to clubs she's old enough to get a job to pay for it!
    She's probably very right about her friends and being seen as silly, but someone started it, I blame the parents.
  • RinEdinburgh
    I agree with a lot of what Martin said. Instead of presents we can just love people and give our time. Another idea is something called 'Just Christmas' a project developed by MBC Baptist Church.
    The idea is that you 'buy one, give one' every time you buy a Christmas present. So every time you buy a pressie for a friend or relative you give the equivalent amount to the 'just Christmas project' justchristmas.org.uk or to another charity or someone that could do with help. It just means folks that do not have much could be blessed. Blessings.
    • Yogibear
    • By Yogibear 11th Nov 09, 1:52 PM
    • 448 Posts
    • 231 Thanks
    Yogibear
    we think it a good idea as well,we did this two years ago after the farce of getting things from siblings ie after shave when I have had a beard for 6 years,paper hankies,size 6 slippers when I`m 6 feet one and 15st.the upturn being we are not invited to any nights out,we were expected to buy gifts for neices and nephews earning over 30000 and us getting bottle of wine from their parents though we dont drink,sorry if I sound a miserable `git`
  • heuristic_abyss
    Each year I get the OH and his family asking me to put things on my Amazon wishlist. Trouble is, each year I can never think of what I want.

    For a change this year I've put charity gifts on my list, e.g. 'chickens - a must have gift from World Vision'. As a result someone in another country who is worse off than many will then get chickens and be able to feed their family.

    A much nicer idea than receiving unwanted gifts.
    • jellyhead
    • By jellyhead 11th Nov 09, 2:05 PM
    • 20,889 Posts
    • 24,217 Thanks
    jellyhead
    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'.
    Originally posted by haggisneepsandtatties
    Would you really have to buy for all the children if you bought for just one? Would the others find out?

    Perhaps her little girl only has a small acquaintance and your gift would have been a big deal to her? If that's the case then could your friend provide you with a gift to pass on and pretend it's from you?
    52% tight
    • jellyhead
    • By jellyhead 11th Nov 09, 2:08 PM
    • 20,889 Posts
    • 24,217 Thanks
    jellyhead
    I'm sick of Christmas already. All the shops are decorated and selling mostly TAT - yes it IS mostly tat - done up in lots of packaging. The shops are already heaving with people buying all this rubbish and the endless loop of Christmas music is enough to make anyone lose whatever Christmas spirit they started out with.

    (At the risk of upsetting the many Boots fans - why exactly are the Christmas 3 for 2s seen as such good deals? Much of the stuff is cheaper to buy in Boots and elsewhere without the fancy packaging!) Ditto for all the other stores. As for BHS, I cannot even bear to go in there - such is the rubbish by the entrance that poses as someone's Christmas gift.

    Does anyone reading this actually WANT strange flavoured oils and all the other weird flavoured jams and chutneys? Champagne or whisky flavoured jam for goodness sake in a tiny jar stuffed into a box of tissue with another equally awful concoction.)

    The shopping centre nearest to me has an enormous tree up and all the decorations. They look lovely - but the little kids think Santa is coming this week! Cue... tantrums galore.

    Meanwhile- at work - I'm being pestered to decide if I want to go to the 'works outing' - (no - I do not). And aaargh! The secret Santa list has again appeared.

    Then there's all the offers to spend X amount just to get free postage or some other small discount. I wonder how many people then spend up to that amount just to get the free postage or discount.

    A bargain is only a bargain if you were going to buy the thing anyway.

    As for Martin asking if Christmas should be banned? It's only a matter of time before it is. No doubt someone somewhere is already dreaming up reasons as to why it's offensive to someone.
    Originally posted by icecoolbabe
    I'm not one of the avid boots fans on MSE but I took advantage of a recent offer and I thought it was excellent value. The toys are the same price as you'd pay elsewhere. Delivery is free. If you can get them on 3 for 2 with 24% back in points (assuming they are worth something to you - to buy toothpaste and shampoo when it's on BOGOF perhaps?) then I don't think I'm going to find a better offer elsewhere. As long as all 3 gifts were things I was going to buy already and I don't get sucked into getting rubbish things for everyone else at over inflated prices then it's a winner.

    Oh, and yes I love chutney and would be thrilled to receive some
    52% tight
    • jellyhead
    • By jellyhead 11th Nov 09, 2:11 PM
    • 20,889 Posts
    • 24,217 Thanks
    jellyhead
    Sorry I forgot to say - I clicked the link for the email to send to people, and it wasn't there. It seems like a great idea for using to downsize the present list and stop buying for people you'd rather not. There are people I do want to buy for though, and I enjoy it.
    52% tight
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