Christmas Presents

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Getting A Christmas Gift

It sometimes seems that Christmas is all about getting, instead of giving, with children (and some adults) appearing to be totally consumed with the Christmas presents they are going to get from Santa this year.

Yet Christmas is supposed to be the season of giving, with a feeling of peace coming from providing someone else with something they have longed for, or could not afford or just plain needed!

Even giving can have its difficulties. I remember one friend telling me many years ago that the first Christmas after he was married, he and his new wife gave expensive presents to all their relatives, only to get embarrassed mumbles from the relatives and small token gifts in return. The following Christmas, of course, it was reversed, they gave token presents, each receiving a munificent Christmas gift back. It took a while before the ritual of giving and receiving among adults in that new, extended family settled down, so that there was some kind of equality in what was given and what was received.

One elderly relative will only ever give gifts, not money unless she cannot get out of it because she buys the gifts on special offer long before Christmas and puts them away, so that she can be seen to be giving something that looks more expensive than it actually was. Her other reason is that she believes children should have only toys for Christmas, she thinks that giving the parents money would mean them buying clothes instead! I think that is a left-over from her own childhood, over 70 years ago, when her parents were very poor and could not afford many toys.

Another friend starts her Christmas preparations and planning in January, buying items well ahead of time, so that she does not have a large expenditure around Christmas time. This of course is helpful – not having to still be paying in August for Christmas toys that may already have been consigned to the trash collection!

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I once asked this friend how she knew what her children would want the following Christmas and she said that the items she bought were what she termed “stocking fillers”, those small gifts that can add up in cost and are used to fill out a child’s stocking or Christmas sack to give them the pleasure of opening many presents. She felt that for many children, the pleasure came from opening many gifts, rather than just one big gift. She also bought clothes in a larger size, wrapping paper, gift tags and cards that shops were selling on offer in the January sales.

This is a totally different attitude from others who prefer to spend their budget on a single large item that a child can enjoy for Christmas and a long while after, such as a bicycle or an electronic gadget, maybe a computer or a music player.

Secret Santa

business06Buying presents for other adults can be difficult and it can be expensive unless you KNOW what they want. This is where Secret Santa comes in. In many offices, the Christmas season not only brings decorations, Christmas music on the music players and carols in the bandstand in the city center, it also brings those agonizing decisions over what to buy office colleagues. Secret Santa gifts are a useful way of ensuring people spend roughly the same amount on each other and as they are opened in public, there shouldn’t be any embarrassing items you can’t take home to your partner, of course, there are some highly funny and embarrassing items out there that you CAN use as Secret Santa items! Never heard of Secret Santa? Everyone in the office writes their own name on a slip of paper and one person collects these in a tin or cup. Then everyone removes a slip from the tin. It should contain someone else’s name and that is the person you buy a single Christmas present for. There is usually a monetary limit on what can be spent, maybe $10 or even less and a lot of the fun is finding something unusual within that limit and wrapping it so no one can guess what is inside until it is opened. All the gifts are stacked in one place (with the person’s name on the outside) and “Santa” distributes them at the office party.

I know one large family that uses the Secret Santa technique among the adult brothers and sisters. Again, their names go into a hat and each person draws out a name to buy for. They also decide on a budget limit. Each person gets one good gift and family members are not left feeling out of pocket by trying to buy for every single other adult sibling.

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Of course, you (almost) cannot go wrong by giving money. Everyone likes it. It means that several gifts of money can be put together so the person can get a larger item if they want. I also believe that by giving money to parents with very little of their own, while the children may not get as many presents, they may get food or heating or clothing that is just as important as a toy. Don’t get me wrong, I like children to get presents as much as anyone else. I also remember being given wellington boots as a birthday present (they were needed) and underwear for a Christmas present (WHAT!!!) neither of which I appreciated at the time but I would have appreciated hunger or cold even less.

Possible Christmas Gifts

Of course, these can only be suggestions  for those who are desperate to find something unexpected for someone but have no idea what to give.

Radio Controlled Vehicle

These are great fun for children and adults alike. Most males (and not a few females) from the age of 3 years up to 43 years (and older) get great fun from playing with a radio controlled car or helicopter or plane. Cars or ground running vehicles are better for young children, with less likelihood of a damaging crash before they have really got playing with it. I know one adult who never got flying his new plane because an “expert” insisted on showing him how to use it and crashing it before he got a go! There are radio controlled cars suitable for young children who can learn good mastery of fine control by playing with them. Adults may like a racing car model (these can get quite expensive) but will need a large area of flat ground available for running them. Some areas have tracks where children and adults can run their cars over a miniature racing track at the weekend. If you have one of these near you, there will always be plenty of expert advice available on models, running and maintenance. The radio controlled helicopters and planes need plenty of room outside for flying and if you have a big model, you may need to check out any local laws about height and aerodromes. Of course, the latest versions of these are called drones, taking aerial photographs and videos and there are many enthusiasts involved in this.

Flowers, Perfume, Chocolate, Biscuits, Scarf, Books and Gift Tokens

These are good stand-by presents to have available, ready-wrapped under the tree in case of unexpected visitors or if you just do not know what to give someone. I only get those items that I can unwrap and use after Christmas if no one gets them! If you are likely to get young children visiting, a coloring book and pencils or crayons is a useful stand by, even if they are getting a separate present. I used to keep craft items available to keep children amused while dinner was being prepared.

Children’s Traditional Toys

Children still love teddies, teddy bears, a soft toy, balls, books, humming tops, board games, toy trains, a doll perhaps with a dolls’ pram, dolls’ houses and bikes or trikes as much as they ever did. Some of the newer traditional toys include Lego, Meccano and other construction toys, all of which can have age appropriate versions.

 

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