Gift Giving: My Nightmare Before Christmas

Christmas gifts. Everyone loves to receive them. Giving them, on the other hand, can often cause major headaches. There are endless questions to answer.

When do I start buying? What should I buy?  Where should I look? What did I buy last year again?

If you can’t already tell, I tend to panic about Christmas presents. The feeling of giving a gift that you know someone is going to love is great. But achieving that feeling is so difficult. Every year I face similar problems when I attempt to write my Christmas gift list.

Generate ideas or ask for ideas?

Coming up with your own ideas for Christmas gifts can result in giving someone an amazing surprise that they will remember forever. However, it could also result in that awkward moment where they ask you for the receipt. Thoughtfulness doesn’t always mean they will like what you buy. Is it better to simply ask people what they want for Christmas and ensure your gift is a hit?


I tend to ask my friends and family what they want, buy those things and then feel like a total cop out for not coming up with my own ideas. This often means I end up panic buying at the last minute to chuck in a few presents they aren’t expecting, but also probably don’t want or need. My bank account suffers greatly and I’m not sure anyone benefits. 

Will I be doing the exact same thing again this year? Most likely.


Repeat gifts: Yes or no?

So, maybe you had excellent ideas last year and your gifts went down great. You know exactly what perfume your mum likes, you’ve figured out the brand of clothing your brother always buys and those slippers you bought your dad were the perfect fit. But now that perfume bottle is empty, you’ve seen your brother wear the same top far too many times, and those slippers are totally worn. Is it okay to buy the same gifts all over again for the following Christmas?

Apart from the classic gift of socks which I seem to buy every year, I normally avoid repeat gifts. I’m worried it looks totally unimaginative to wrap up carbon copies of all your ideas from the previous Christmas. However, realistically if you know the person on the receiving end likes the gift, then it’s a much better way of buying than the panic strategy. 

Of course, the repeat buy only works if you’ve given successful gifts in the past and I’m sure this rules out some of us already. 

Novelty gifts: Are they worth it?

All department stores will have a section dedicated to novelty gifts. They range from quite normal presents such as mini joke books and funny socks to completely bonkers things like anti-snoring sweets and the world’s smallest walkie-talkies (if you don’t believe me then google it!). These presents make great cheap secret Santa or stocking fillers but do people really want to be given them?

As a self-confessed panic buyer, I admit I’ve bought quite a few novelty presents in my time. Thinking back on most of these, many prompted a laugh when opened but I’ve never seen them again after Christmas day. They have either found their way to the bin very quickly or are just sitting gathering dust upstairs. In that sense, these gifts seem quite pointless, despite the initial laughter they bring. This year, I’m going to do my best to avoid them and go for something more meaningful and long-lasting instead.

To all the dodgy gift givers out there, I completely sympathise with your struggles. My few words of advice are to generate your own ideas first to avoid the last minute panic; if you know a gift works then buy it again and finally, resist the novelty presents unless you know for certain that they will be used for more than 24 hours. 

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

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