Christmas Present Roulette

It’s here! December and the 24 days when you are allowed to start with a chocolaty breakfast! I could list dozens of positive points that spring to my mind about this last month of the year but this is also probably the most stressful month for those families where Christmas celebrations include giving presents. It’s not always easy to come up with something to buy your parents or siblings who are also already adults and who are not in need of anything particularly. Buying useless gifts especially at a time like this when our over-consumption of all resources is threatening our own lives gives me shivers. I want the recipient to feel content when they open the packet rather than indifferent; "Oh, another candle, this time purple..."

I don’t believe in this wasteful consumption where people just go and buy whatever for their family and friends and after Christmas all those items end up in Ebay or back to the store. I have personal experience of this, and not particularly positive ones: the worst thing happened when I worked in a jewelry store in Finland during the week after Christmas. People basically showed up just in order to change or return an item they got for Christmas. One day a couple in their early thirties came into the store and the woman informed the entire store very loudly that she would very much like to return these diamond earrings that her boyfriend had somehow been stupid enough to buy. The poor man was standing behind her completely red in the face and on the verge of tears. I could hardly hide my annoyance with this woman’s insanely rude attitude. Firstly it is a rare thing that a Finnish man buys you a present without being told to do so, let alone diamond earrings! Secondly, even if the present isn’t exactly what you wanted diamond earrings to be, you do not bring the presenter to the store to be humiliated and then spend the rest of your life wondering why that man NEVER bought you another present again.

So, to avoid such encounters with unhappy present-getters let’s keep it simple! Some presents work every time. A particularly good present, in my opinion, is to give time. These days people are so busy and stressed out about whatever, which means that such a plentiful resource as time has become almost a luxury. Presenting time simply means experiences, for example a dinner in their favourite restaurant, tickets to a concert or the movies, a trip or a wellness center gift card for them alone or with someone special. Such experiences can be presented as gift cards purchased from a company or you can make your own as well: get a pretty postcard and write your greetings there. There are countless options for presenting time and as long as you make sure that the concert you buy tickets to is one that the recipient likes, you can’t go wrong.

Even though these days people can order books into their tablets and smart phones they still tend to prefer holding a proper book in their hands when reading. So, books are easy and good presents for those who enjoy them. Shops also offer all sorts of "ready gifts", pretty boxes including soaps and body lotions, which are nice but completely miss the personal touch. At least buy the products separately and gift-wrap them yourself. 

Absolute no-go’s are all interior design and fashion items that the recipient has not specifically asked for. I can’t shed the memory of some of the most horrible paintings my friends’ families have given them as a wonderfully awesome gift… Except the recipient wouldn’t put it on the wall even if they were paid to do so. Clothes can be bought if you know for sure that a certain item goes with their sense of style (not yours, their!) and is the correct size. Nobody wants to go change the wrong sized clothes after Christmas, it sort of ruins the whole thing of it having been a gift. 

Buying presents really isn't as difficult as many make it out to be. If you keep your ears open all-year-round you should be in possession of all the required information for finding a successful Christmas present. If somebody needs a new appliance to their kitchen, either buy it yourself or purchase a gift card, which gives the recipient the option to choose the brand, shape and colour of the appliance themselves. If somebody has a trip abroad next year you might want to get them something related to the trip; a survival kit including a map and a tourist guide about the destination country/city, sun lotion, passport cover, etc., or just one bigger thing, like a suitcase.  Generally life tends to be easier when you pay attention to the people around you and what they are saying. ;)


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