(if these generic suggestions fulfil any greater role in the giving of gifts than that of potential stocking-fillers, you seriously need to re-evaluate your relationships with everyone you’re getting presents for)
Yes, ‘tis the season once more. It’s nearly Boxing Day Eve once again. With the increasingly insane amount of stuff you can buy for your relatives and/or pets these days, you’re either spoiled for choice, or end up assuming there must be something in the local petrol station you can buy your Dad at 11:53 on Christmas Eve. To solve both of these problems, I shall give you my humble suggestions for getting relevant, and cheap, presents.
1) Make stuff for your grandparents
The emphasis here is on make; these are people that may have lived through all of World Wars, the hippie movement, racial and sexual upheaval and England actually winning the World Cup, and you think a box of chocolates and a card with a dog on it are adequate to surprise or amuse these people?
Probably the most recent thing to happen in their lives that’s relevant to them is the invention of you – they’ve seen a lifetime of crappy gifts from M&S, but have seen comparatively little of you and what you could create (because most people whose grandparents are still alive are kids, teenagers or, at a push, young adults), so give them a taste of something new and close to their hearts.
I recommend making a card, or writing a poem, both of which have now become personal traditions within my family.
2) Chocolates are overrated
These seem like the obvious fall back plan, in that any normal person, and now even us Diabetics, can get through a tin of Quality Street fairly quickly, with relatively few nerve ending-puncturing injections. However, everyone’s seen and eaten all of the ‘mainstream’ chocolates before – your gift seems like a cop-out if it’s been the same one for the last four years.
Try weirder snack foods: you can buy entire boxes of chocolates that are orange-flavoured if you’re unadventurous, or junk like popcorn if you’re a bit nuts; ‘tis the season of face-stuffing, so vary the materials with which you stuff, please.
3) Don’t buy anything that encourages a long-term commitment
My Dad once bought me a bass amp for Christmas. Used it about twice in my life. It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing it, I simply don’t have the free time to devote to something as long-term and involving as a musical instrument (and don’t tell me I need to ‘make time’; I write this blog every day, have schoolwork to do and I’m gonna read Paradise Lost next week – I’m not the hardest-working person in the World, but I do quite a few things, okay?).
This also refers to buying stuff for people that you want them to have, rather than stuff they themselves want; no matter how innocently you do it, if you buy your sister a textbook for the subject she’s struggling in, it’s a pretty clear sign that you think she sucks at the subject. Don’t try to give someone a thing that changes them, give them a thing that they will use and get enjoyment out of now.
4) Never give money
They’ll just burn it on vests and colouring pencils in the Boxing Day sales, when you could have got them something so much more personal and relevant yourself, for probably much less.
Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, and in a capitalist society, that means giving things. The holiday places the emphasis on you to decide what you think is best for that person, whom you know and love personally. Cash is often a bit of a cop-out, unless a person specifically asks for it (as I do, because it’s easier to explain to my distant relatives than the inside jokes on YuGiOh abridged t-shirts I will spend said money on).
5) Move Christmas
Celebrate it on December 27th, so you can all buy food and presents during the Boxing Day sales for a fraction of the price you would have paid otherwise – it’s worth waiting two days for these kinds of savings, which upon repeated inspection, look increasingly like Karl Marx’s worst nightmares.
Jesus was meant to be born in November anywho, so you’re hardly missing out on the already-diluted religious justification of all this nonsense.