The 12 types of Christmas present
There are two types of people in this world; those who have all of their pre-ordered gifts neatly wrapped, ribboned and under the tree by December 3rd and those who’re sprinting down Oxford Street at 4pm on Christmas Eve screaming ‘QUICK ANYBODY – WHERE THE FUCK CAN I BUY A FUCKING DIPTYQUE CANDLE?’.
I fear that buying gifts brings out the worst in me. As I write this (December 21st – yep FOUR days before Christmas) I’m sweating profusely, trawling the John Lewis website and mapping out my lunchtime foray to Oxford Street – during which I hope to purchase gifts for EVERYONE I KNOW in one swift supermarket sweep style shopping experience.
Gifts are so incredibly difficult to buy because they are so much more than just gifts: They are tangible representations of how much you respect their recipients: Box of milk tray literally translates to ‘couldn’t care less if I tried’. Bath salts equal ‘I forgot to even buy you anything but please accept this meagre offering from the back of my bathroom cabinet you sod’. It’s a minefield. To help you make your selections and avoid total catastrophe I’ve devised a list of the 12 types of Christmas present: Numbers to avoid include 1, 2, 3 and 8 but 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 aren’t preferable either. See what I told you? Minefield.
1. The recycled from last year gift
Bubble bath, a scented candle or fancy moisturizer may seem innocent enough, but remember this – all items are easily re-gifted and were likely pulled out of the gift drawer (i.e. drawer full of crap nobody wants) mere hours ago. Be warned givers of recycled gifts for there is NOTHING more awkward than re-gifting a gift to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Proceed with caution.
2. The half-arsed attempt
A lazy attempt at pretending to care is evident in the giving of the cut-price autobiography of a C-list celebrity or a set of day of the week socks from M&S. Although given that Christmas is the only time any of us actually gets new socks, this half-arsed attempt could actually be quite well received.
3. The last-minute panic present
You’ll unwrap this present quizzically thinking ‘Is this really a furby/tin opener/rubber duck?!’ (Delete as applicable). Surely it can’t be a furby/tin opener/rubber duck?! They don’t make them anymore do they? Oh no that really is what that is. This, readers, is what we call a panic buy: Quite probably picked up in a supermarket sweep style shopping spree by the giver on Christmas Eve and wrapped in the car on the way to you
4. The handmade present
Usually made with love but little skill or precision: The handmade present is a heart-warming offering which will likely be on display for two to three days before swiftly being thrown in the bin. Think sweaty chocolate truffles, pritt-stick splattered scrapbook or clumsily iced biscuits. Always accept a handmade gift with grace as the giver is likely at best emotionally unstable, at worst clinically insane… Yep even if it looks like a twig attached to a piece of string (probably because that’s what it is).
5. The spare present
It’s always safe to purchase a few spare gifts – you know, just in case Aunty Margaret gets forgotten again (poor Aunty Margaret always gets forgotten) and you have to unconvincingly mumble that you didn’t think you were doing gifts this year whilst staring at your shoes and wishing the ground would swallow you whole… Chocolates and wine both make excellent spare gifts because worst case scenario is that you get to consume them yourself.
6. The voucher
Most likely from an elderly relative who still thinks the kids buy their music at HMV. Depending on retail outlet, vouchers can actually be quite exciting because you HAVE to buy something tangible and can’t merely put the money towards your exorbitant travel expenses and/or addiction to alcohol – which, let’s face it, is where all your other Christmas money goes.
7. The dad gift
Christmas can be a difficult time for Dads – often found standing in the doorway of John Lewis looking utterly bewildered as they hold approximately 6373292 shopping bags and scan the floor searching for Mum who said she’d ‘only be five minutes’ over 40 minutes ago. Perhaps the disorientation of it all is what causes them to carefully select such bizarre gifts as fleece lined gloves, world maps or the Deal or no Deal interactive DVD game.
8. The hint gift
Gym membership, subscription to diet club, self-help book titled “How to turn your life around”; if you receive any of these then I regret to say you are being hinted at my friend. In this particular instance, I suggest that you make an exception to my rule and pointedly re-gift the gift to the giver. See how they like that.
9. The overly extravagant gift
Always horribly awkward: You get her a necklace from Freedom at Topshop, she gets you a mini break to Paris. Thank god you stocked up on all those spare boxes of Ferrero Rocher.
10. The borderline insulting gift
“I just thought this was so you,” the giver will gush, as you unwrap what can only be described as a wearable crotched tea cosy – clearly insinuating you are a moron with no taste whatsoever. “Will it fit?”, they’ll continue – “only I think I might have gotten a too-small size, you do tend to get a little more rotund over the festive period, don’t you?”
11. The giver’s gift to themselves
“Let’s crack this open shall we?”, the giver will enthuse the very same moment you’ve unwrapped your shiny new aerial drone/hair crimping tool. Once you do, assume it’s no longer yours. In truth, the giver had his or her eyes on it from the outset, and bought for you only under the guise of it being a ‘gift’ so that they themselves could enjoy it.
12. The gift you really wanted
Probably from your mum. She’s always sensible enough to ask what you’d like. In fact, if she’s anything like mine she probably let you have it before Christmas because you’re a brat and didn’t want to wait that long. Love you mum. I do not deserve you.
If you too want to bow out of this whole giving-ridiculous-gifts-nobody-really-wants-which-will-inevitabley-end-up-in-landfill dynamic, try these eco-friendly gift ideas...