Why I'm Going Cold Turkey On Christmas Presents This Year

Why I'm Going Cold Turkey On Christmas Presents This Year
A festive image of saving money for Christmas expenses - Christmas gets more expensive every year and saving up is important.
A festive image of saving money for Christmas expenses - Christmas gets more expensive every year and saving up is important.

The stargazing kings brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now you're more likely to get an iPad, some shit socks and another hand cream to add to your growing pile of bodily moisturisers for Christmas.

With my maternity leave coming to an end, and the ever-tight mat leave budget drying up faster than gin supplies on a hen night, we've decided to go for a gift-free Christmas. Ta ta myrrh, ta ta iPads. Ta ta fun.

What is Christmas without the glut of commercially-driven presents and frenzied trip to hated shopping malls? A grim and sorry spectacle. Nothing at all like the Christmases we've been used to.

And hence the backlash. I polled friends, family (and possibly soon to be ex both) as to how they felt about this idea. Plenty said they were cool with it, but surprisingly the most Jesusy among us was sad to see gifts go by the wayside.

Last Christmas this poor lot got the sum of my trawl of Harvey Nichols after a VIP press card was foolishly issued to me by their PR. I scattered panettones, whisky, delicious Turkish delight and Pashmak hither and thither. I was high on the fact that I was eight and a half months pregnant and still had a salary.

They also enjoyed (I hope) my love of gift-wrapping. Each was tied with a cute bottle of pre-mixed Campari to encourage merriment. The loss of opportunity to wrap gifts is for me the saddest part about the gift-free Christmas.

But it's also a great opportunity to get back to what Christmas is about – for me at least – which is family getting together to reflect on the year past and enjoy each other's company over food. Also, carols in the village church where my husband's family live.

The best part so far of this gift-free Christmas is not having to rush about the shops. I genuinely feel liberated already (and no, you don't need to tell me that the internet can take the hassle out of shopping, I am an expert in this, unfortunately for my bank balance.)

The budget is part of the inspiration behind this shift in end of year spending, but so too is the general notion that we spend far too much and too willingly on stuff we don't need.

I really reject the mercenary element of Christmas, where you list the material objects you want and tell other people to buy them for you, and they do likewise. There's nothing magical about delivering exactly the sandwich press someone fancies from Currys.

To be clear, when I say 'no gift' Christmas, I really mean nothing from the shops. I am planning to DIY some small gifts, but nothing that is going to damage my budget.

On the off chance you also fancy joining me in this gift-free Christmas, that hopefully will deliver the togetherness and hygge we're all after, here's how I'm planning to do this.

Husband: This is difficult one, because I want to show my husband that I appreciate what a brilliant job he has done in his first year as a father. He loves vanilla and I have found a place in Deptford, Deli X, that sells vanilla pods exceptionally cheaply. So anything I can make with those, like marshmallow, will go down a treat.

Baby: Baby's first Christmas is scrawled on so much tat and marketing material. But given that he is wowed by what's accidentally hidden under his nappy bag or a stray baby wipe, he will not notice that we haven't busted out the plastic to shower him with tat. Nana has knitted him a hat, I'm going to sew him a toy with fun fur and there are no rules on anyone else buying him gifts.

Mum: My mum always returns her gifts, saying 'don't waste your money on me!' I'm not genetically inclined to take after that statement, but it's a blessing this year.

Brother: We seem to have developed a no gifts policy by default. We never buy each other gifts, not because we don't value each other but perhaps because we know that we're always there for each other ,gift or no gift.

Parents-in-law: Easy! Not my parents, so my husband can look after this one. I will do a little baking of treats for them though, and we grew chillis this year, so some chilli oil will be in their hamper.

Me: I don't need anything that I can't buy or make for myself. I did however mention to my husband that if he breaks this no-gift rule and really wants to get me something, just a small token that sums up what I've done for the family this past year will do.

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