A Pragmatist’s Guide to Practical Present Giving….

Day 3 – A Sensitive Cynic’s Christmas Survival Guide

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I need to ask myself the question, before I carry on with this Survival Guide:

Do I even want to bother with Christmas this year?

It’s no-brainer really isn’t it? I have kids. I don’t think they would let me get away with opting out of Christmas. Not to mention that I have a husband who is one of them. He is my polar opposite when it comes to Christmas. He wants the decs up by 1st December. The tackier the better in his eyes. His Christmas music play list is on repeat throughout the whole month and he knows all the words, which he sings at full volume. He not only loves to shop for presents, he’s exceptionally gifted at doing the whole present-giving thing. Which works quite well for me. Not so much for him, sadly.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas together. He presented me with a mountain of beautifully wrapped gifts, and each one I opened was a reflection of how much notice he’d taken of me since he’d met me a few months before. They were perfectly suited to me in every way. It’s been like that every year since. When he opened the ones I gave him, the question that should have remained in his head of “why on earth would I want that?” came through loud and clear in a facial expression I’ll never forget. (He’s improved his thought-to-facial-expression control since then, thankfully). Awkward….

Yeah, I’m pretty lousy at present buying. It all boils down to two character traits:

1) I hate shopping.

Yes, I am a female who hates shopping. It happens. My wardrobe is made up of hand-me downs belonging to my sisters and my mum (who thankfully all have great taste). I still wear a pair of trousers that I bought when I was 17, twenty years ago.

2) I am practical and pragmatic.

If it’s not got a purpose, I’m not interested. I’d rather not bother buying anything if I don’t think it will be used. I’ve bought some cringe-worthily practical presents over the years. If I don’t know what to buy someone, I find it really hard to get something for the sake of it. Which means I either;

-buy stuff I think is pointless, which makes me feel quite flat


– find myself wrapping a useful selection of Tupperware, vitamin supplements and dishcloths, knowing full well they will elicit a “what the heck were you thinking?” face and I will cringe pathetically.

Thought for today –

This year I am going to find a way to give presents that have some essential ingredients:

I’ve decided that the gifts I give will need to meet the following criteria…

  • I want the person to hear the message behind the gift: You are special to me, I care about you, and I really thought about what you might appreciate and enjoy using”.

That’s because I’ve realised that gift-giving has to have love as it’s foundation, rather than duty or usefulness. If a loved one receives a gift that has the message of “I had to buy you something…anything, because it’s the done thing” written all over it, I think an opportunity to make them feel special is lost, and that’s very sad. Most of us have been on the receiving end of gift like that, and it sucks.

  • I want to stay within my very limited budget

I’ve been rubbish this year with setting money aside – I’ve only managed to save for my childrens’ presents. And I don’t want to get into debt. So the fact is, I need to be economical.

Task for today-

For any gifts I still have left to buy, I am going to spend some time planning the ideal gift.

I’m gonna set aside some time, hard as that is, because in the long run it will save me time and stress. It can be several sessions of 15 minutes or so, or it can be a whole evening. Whatever suits. But I’ll make it a nice bit of “me” time – A cup of tea, a comfy place to sit, maybe a candle and some nice music. I’ll write a list of all the people to buy for. I may include someone who is lonely, in poverty, or just in need of a little “spoiling” who I wouldn’t normally buy for, although I don’t want that person to then feel bad for not buying back for me, so I need to take that into account.

First of all I’m going to think up any ways I can have a “theme” this year, so that I can buy or make similar types of presents and that way cut down on cost and shopping time. This is also a good way to consider gifts for people I don’t know so well, but still want to buy for, such as my kids’ teachers.

Then, I’m going to consider one person from the list at a time and write some notes about them – what they like, what their interests are etc. I might even have look on their Facebook or Pinterest likes too. I might close my eyes and just go through some of my memories of spending time with that person, or look through some recent photos. Anything to try and give me some hints about the right gift for them ahead of the dreaded shopping bit. (Although online shopping is my preference these days, I still class it as dreaded shopping.)

After I’ve done that, I’m going to pray for that person, and to ask God to reveal to me if there is anything they need, or would particularly enjoy. I can read through anything I jotted down too and add more ideas after praying for them.

That’s it. I’m actually quite looking forward to doing this – makes a change from the panicking and cringing.

I’ll be doing a short video update soon to let you know how I’m getting on…


2 responses

  1. Pingback: There’s a time to stop, and a time to shop…. | In a manna of speaking...

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