The 3 times it’s ok not to give presents this Christmas

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Christmas is the time of year where it is more joyful to give than to receive. Right? Well, sometimes. But for many people, Christmas shopping can be so stressful it takes all the fun out of the season.

Here are just three reasons why it’s OK not to give gifts at Christmas.

1. Not everybody has the same budget.

There should be a word for the specific, seasonal embarrassment of receiving a fantastic Christmas present, and thinking ‘oh god, my gift to you looks lame in comparison’. Sometimes this is a matter of taste (certain people just have that knack for giving great gifts), but other times, it’s a case of disposable income. If you’re in a very different place financially to your friends, Christmas can be a stressful period. By the time you’ve been out for the traditional meal and drinks, you’re stretching all of your pennies.

Talking about money can be awkward, but if you’re increasingly finding yourself struggling to keep up, it might be a good idea to mention this to your friends — ask that they not spend a lot on your gifts this year, as you can’t reciprocate and it makes you feel bad. Maybe set a price limit on gifts, or ditch presents altogether in favour of a cheap and cheerful takeaway and a few bottles of wine together in January.

2. Things can soon get out of hand.

It starts out as a good thing. You spoil those nearest and dearest to you, and they do the same. “Oh you shouldn’t have,” you say, but you’re glad they did because you’ve been eyeing up that fragrance for months. The thing is, where does it end? If you’re anything like me, each Christmas you’ll look back at the gifts you received the year before and try to outdo them, giving presents that are increasingly extravagant. Things escalate, exchanging gifts becomes a competitive sport, and before you know it you’re into your overdraft before January has even begun.

It’s also very easy to get carried away with regards to the number of people you give to. Each year, the shopping season starts earlier and earlier, and so you find yourself thinking ‘well I should probably buy Cousin Blah a token something, it would be rude not to, never mind that they’re a total bore and I don’t actually like them, ‘tis the season!’ You might not want to embargo gift-giving altogether, but it’s worth looking at your lengthy Christmas list and asking yourself; does this person who you only see twice a year really warrant more than a card?

3. A bad gift is worse than no gift at all.

Is there anything more depressing than the gift displays in department stores, filled with useless objects which are designed specifically for shoppers who have no idea how to give a good present? They might as well hang a giant sign over them proclaiming ‘THIS’LL DO’. The problem is even worse if you’re a man. No shop seems to know exactly what men like, and so they clog the shelves with the arcana of toxic masculinity; power tools, desktop punching bags, and unsightly novelty beer glasses.

These people mean well, of course. They think that a keyring is better than nothing, that as long as the recipient has something to unwrap, it doesn’t matter what’s inside. That is a falsehood, my friends. A wrapped parcel is a contract. It offers the promise of something exciting inside. Peeling back the wrapping paper only to find a piece of thoughtless garbage which proves that the giver doesn’t know you at all is the adult equivalent of learning there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.

So if you find yourself stood in front of the 3 for 2 gift stand, contemplating picking up a Family Guy shot glass or a bottle opener that farts every time you use it, do everybody you know a favour. Don’t.

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