Friday Find: On Xmas Gifts

I'm trying something new. I know lots of bloggers do a round of up of their week's favourite posts on Friday, so I'm totally stealing the idea, but with my own twist.

I plan to point out only one post/article (doesn't have to be a blog) I've read during the week that I really liked, made me think or affected me in some way. I'll try to comment relatively extensively on it as well – it may even turn into a real blog post instead of just a link. We'll see!

So this week, and I'm not even sure if he wrote it this week (but hey, cut me a little slack on this first one) is Leo Babauta's post on the case against buying Christmas presents. I forwarded it to a colleague of mine, which made me think, 'hey, I should point this out to my lovely blog readers!'

Christmas presents are a divisive thing. Some people just love giving them, some people find them really stressful and there is always the view that they are just for kids. The reason I liked Babauta's post so much is he really thoroughly addresses all the arguments that everyone uses as to why we should keep giving them (WHAT? NO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS?) and comes back with some well thought-out answers.

The spirit of gifts is great. But the reality can be just the opposite.

I think the crux of the issue these days is time. Time should be our greatest gift to ourselves and others. For example, no one can make gifts these days because they don't have the 'time'. But even if we didn't sacrifice time to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies or photo albums for each other, what about just trying to spend more time as a family doing something together instead of opening gifts? Playing a board game, going for a walk, even – hey – just talking. When did we all get so busy?

Don't get me wrong, I love giving gifts. And I don't even find it that stressful. But I know plenty of people who do. Also, Babauta's whole 'people in this world are still going hungry' really resonated. Often we just give up on creativity and give something useless to someone just because we feel we have to. Like when you buy one of those baskets of soap & lotion (come on, you know you've done it and it's a total I-didn't-know-what-to-buy-for-you-so-I-bought-you-something-smelly cop out gift). Why not donate that money to charity?

But even resolving the gift giving issue amongst our families and friends takes time and effort and a wiliness to confront our own issues. And who has time for that?

Maybe the best way to resolve it is to decide on your own gift-giving policy and set an example. Ask people to make donations to specific charities for you (to handle the incoming gifts) and then decide you're only going to spend £10 or $20 on each person, or nothing at all, and make your own gifts – force yourself to get really creative. I especially like Babauta's suggestion to only buy things from charity shops or passing on your treasured items – that way you're essentially recycling, instead of consuming. I might try that next year.

Food for thought, anyway, as Christmas fast approaches. I still have about six gifts left to buy – arrrgh! And that's my first Friday Find.


  1. well, well, i am one of those who love giving presents and more importantly love getting them! Especially those beautifully wrapped ones! May sound vain in this day and age and time consuming but the very thought that some one did think about you, did some effort.....that does matter at the end of the day. With our lives getting busier and super hectic and the fact that some one did find the time for you...this very little gesture on its own matters the most! You may not like it...we all have different tastes, likes and dislikes and it may end up in a charity shop is another matter altogether...but the beauty of gifts and that very feeling when you are all guessing once you see a wrapped gift still excites me. It excites me in the same way when i was 5 versus now when I am 32!

  2. When we spend Christmas with my husband's family, we usually by one present each, according to a predetermined theme, and then have great fun getting our one present out of the pot. The theme varies between years and have included 'charity shop', 'green', 'home made', with the 'mysterious' present the most fun ever! However, for reasons I still try to phathom, we have, following the suggestion by one of the family members, fallen into the trap of one present each to each person present. I'm gutted! And can only hope that this is a one off and that everone else realizes how mad and time and money consuming this is.

  3. Karin - I love the idea of doing secret santa (one present for each person) with a theme - how fun! I think, at the end of the day that we can't lose sight of fun as part of gift giving. That's the point, really, isn't it? Not to cause stress.
    Hina - I agree that giving and getting gifts is wonderful, but I think it's more the focus on consumerism at Christmas that bothers me. The fact that someone was killed in the US in a stampede to get into Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving (!!) is such a ridiculous pointless tragedy. It takes so much away from what holidays are supposed to be about.


Back to Top