Friday, September 21, 2018

When to Stop Giving Presents

I'm in another of my decluttering phases, and so I'm once again pondering the question of gifts (birthday and Christmas).

You might wonder how these two are associated. It's fairly simple: for each Christmas and birthday there tends to be a number of presents received. In most cases, these are things I've specifically asked for, or in some cases things I haven't asked for but that I will use. But the truth is that there are usually a few gifts that won't ever really be used, and which therefore just take up space. (I'm sorry if that seems ungrateful. It's certainly not intended to be! But it is the truth.)

In an attempt to combat, or at least reduce this, one of the tricks that we tend to use is to ask the person what they would like as a gift, and then get that. Or we just cut out the middle-man, and go directly to giving the money. Which has a certain efficiency to it, but which also lacks most of the warmth of gift-giving. Besides, if I receive £20 from each of my siblings in June, but then give £20 to each of them at their birthdays, is there really any point?

Basically, what I'm saying is that my siblings and I should stop giving each other gifts, with the probable exception of birthdays for ages ending in '0'.

But there's a second, perhaps trickier thing to consider: with one exception we now each have children, ranging in ages from 12 to less than one. And this also leads to a lot of present-buying.

So the next questions are these:
  • At what age should we switch from giving a nephew/niece a present to instead giving them money to spend themselves? (Which may seem to lack warmth, but there comes a point where that's probably preferable to the recipient.)
  • At what age does that gift-giving just stop entirely?
  • Is Christmas different from birthdays for any of the above?
(Incidentally, I think the answers I'm inclined to advocate are: "thirteen", "eighteen", and "yes - between thirteen and eighteen you still get an actual present for Christmas".) Also, looking back, I think the convention I wish we had adopted had been that you keep receiving gifts until you start your first 'real' job. Which, conveniently, would have been at about the same age for pretty much all of us.


Kezzie said...

I agree with everything you say. I end up with SO MUCH STUFF at Christmas (also from Kids at school- usually chocolate or smellies covered in lots of eco-unfriendly plastic packaging) and inevitably, as you say, without being ungrateful, it isn't generally useful! My sister and I stopped giving each other presents for Christmas a couple of years ago and I think this works well and none of my inlaws bought me a present for birthday last year so I think that's quite good.

Steph/ven said...

I tend to be less bothered by things that are consumable - at least those get eaten/used/whatever and so don't create long-term clutter. Though the eco-unfriendly plastics are a big issue, of course - but that's another rant!

(Unfortunately, one of the fall-backs for not giving gifts is "we'll just give a card instead" - but that's also not exactly eco-friendly!)