Though the tradition of gift giving is rooted in the gifts that the three wise men gave to the infant Jesus and latterly by the then Bishop and later again by St Nicholas, who was known for his generosity to children, it has now been taken over by brands and companies, which have taken this part of the holiday and turned it into one of the most profitable periods for retailers around the world. You can travel from New York to Singapore and from Cape Town to Helsinki and you will see Christmas displays and adverts enticing you to purchase presents for your family and friends. Christmas is commercial, indeed it can be argued that it is overly so.
I love a good gift. The anticipation of the gift, the wrapping paper, the desire to open the present and discover what treat you recieved, but even more for me is the happiness that a well bought present gives joy to someone else. It is a good time to be had by all, an extra joy to a hopefully joyful family education.
Though I have a lot to say on the commercialisation of Christmas, I shall confine myself simply to say that it does not have to be this way. It is not necessary to spend excessively, as with everything we say at the Perfect Gentleman it is about preparation, spending on quality and making sure your gift is what the other person wants.
My tips for a successful Christmas Present giving this Christmas:
If you are talented enough – Make it Yourself: If you have skill there is nothing better than a handmade gift. Whether that is a painting or piece of wood work, it will stand out as personal. Mrs #1PG always sends calendars of pictures that she has taken and I miss the jumpers my grandmother used to knit.
Set a Family Budget – and stick to it: If money is tight, or even if it isn’t, one of the best ways to deal with the commercialisation of Christmas is to set a budget per head, pick a figure that is reasonable and sensible for your wallet and family size. Tell everyone that is the price point and stick to it. It will certainly get you creative. Those who break it get a forfeit such as being on washing up duty all Christmas!
Get the Best Gift that you can afford: quality will shine through. It is better to get the best gift you can afford than something that won’t last or that is part of a fad. No matter what the price point is, look to purchase something that will last. It will also stay in the memory of the receiver for longer.
Give ‘em what they want – within reason: a great many people buy presents in effect for themselves and not for the recipient. Ask people what they would like and go out and get it, or certainly variations on a theme. One of my family members never asks me what I would like and always gets me a book that he would want to read and he has never seen me with.
The caveat to this is buying for children, who will want the earth, but ground rules are important here, so even they should be aware of the budget for Xmas presents.
Plan & Buy Ahead: Following on from above, it is best to get the presents early, there is nothing worse than running around on Christmas Eve trying to purchase something out of desperation. We have seen it many many times. Make sure you ask what people want and endeavour to get it, or something similar. With the internet you have less and less excuse. If you are really smart you will have been making notes all year in the build up to Christmas!
Have Fun! Purchase the gift with a joyous heart, for when you give it to the person they will have the joy with which you purchased it.
Finally, the season is really about giving. Give of yourself not presents, give the gift of gratitude for all that has come to pass, even the bad bits. Take time this Christmas to do an act of chivalry, in the original sense of the word; go out and do some good in the world. Volunteer at a homeless shelter; visit a lonely older person; bake cookies and go to an orphanage or an old people’s home; give presents to a hospital; bake a cake for the staff at the hospice. Give of yourself and your time freely. It is the Gentlemanly thing to do after all.
Make this Christmas about giving not getting and make this world that little bit more special in your heart. You won’t regret it as you step into 2015.