Christmas gift giving guide

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  I get a warm fuzzy feeling every year when we put the fairy lights up, but it is often accompanied by no small amount of stress.  A major cause of this can be gift giving.  Whether your household goes all out and gets lots of presents, or if you are more modest and have a secret santa set up, it can sometimes feel impossible to find the right gift.  This becomes even more challenging once you start looking into environmental credentials and suddenly, it can feel like you can’t get them anything.  No one wants to give an unwanted gift so we need to think carefully about what gifts to give and avoid falling into the consumerism trap.  Well fear not, here we have some Natural Weigh approved tips and guilt free gift giving advice.

#1 Ask people what they would like

I know I know, it’s really boring but I know plenty of families who have a great system whereby they provide a list of potential gifts to each other around birthdays and Christmas.  It means you are guaranteed to give a desired present which will be appreciated and worth the money.  The list doesn’t have to be specific, you can give scope  to choose between various types or brands, but a general idea is usually helpful.  And you never know, the recipient may have wanted something particular for ages but can’t justify buying it themselves.  This sort of gift will always be well received.

#2 Try secret santa

This is incredibly popular these days, particularly in places like offices.  It means you can spend more on one amazing gift instead of buying several ok gifts.  Personally, I’m not a huge advocate for office gift giving. Often we don’t know our colleagues that well and buying gifts can sometimes be more of a gesture than an actual thoughtful act of giving.  For offices, see my next tip 😉.  But back to secret santa.  We have done this for many years in my family and it works really well.  It takes a teeny amount of organisation and usually someone has to take control and get everyone sorted with who they are buying for.  But when you can pool your gift giving money (and time!) you are bound to get a more meaningful gift which will be better received.

#3 Consider homemade gifts

Now not all of us are crafty or have enough spare time to be making stuff, but let’s be honest, these sorts of gifts can be a real winner.  If you are handy, you can go all out.  Last year we made a coat hanger out of some old cutlery and scrap wood and it went down a storm with my Dad.  It might save you money and the recipient will have something bespoke and personalised which is always desirable.  If you aren’t particularly handy, this style of gift giving can still work really well in places like the office.  EVERYONE likes tasty treats so why not make your Christmas contribution to the office homemade mince pies, festive cupcakes or some yummy chocolates?  It avoids the potential for cheap Christmas tat (and they might even share them with you).

#3 Try an experience

These are lovely particularly because they often involve you spending time with your loved one so not only are you giving the gift of an experience, you are also giving them quality time with you. For the last few years, my Dad has given my brothers and I a summer ‘experience’ as a family.  He has paid for us all to go white water rafting or gorge walking and one of my favourite things about these experiences are that they bring the family together.  There are lots and lots and lots of different experiences out there.  And if you can’t afford a full blown Red Letter Day voucher, you can make your own voucher and pay for the two of you to go camping for the weekend or out to dinner.

#4 Don’t be afraid to buy second hand

I have been amazed at the quality of second hand goods and quite frankly if your gift is something your friend or family really wants, then they won’t care that it is second hand. Facebook marketplace and Gumtree are brilliant for bargains in your local area.  Charity shops have some real bargains, some clothes even still have the new tags on and they are great if you’re buying for a bookwork.  And on ABE Books you can get whole series for a fraction of the price they would have cost new.  Ebay and Amazon also have a wealth of second hand goods available but I shy away from using them as they are notoriously unethical in their work practices (underpaid staff, not paying taxes, etc.) and I don’t want any of my hard earned money being used to fund these sorts of practices.

#5 Give a voucher

It is a whole lot better to receive a voucher than to receive something you don’t actually want or need.  You can get vouchers for specific outlets (like Natural Weigh ;)) or there are even some which allow you to shop at a number of different retailers.  I know it isn’t very satisfying to give but I honestly believe you and your friend would rather the money wasn’t wasted.

#6 Think carefully about who is on your Christmas shopping list

It can be easy to get into a gift buying frenzy, buying things for people who really aren’t expecting anything from you.  I have been both on the giving and receiving end of this sort of gift giving and let me tell you it makes everyone feel uncomfortable.  If the recipient has not got you a gift in return then they will probably feel like they have let you down.  And it is a horrible feeling to give someone a gift and see panic on their face because they haven’t got you one.  It takes all the enjoyment out of gift giving.  If in doubt, ask.  Again, I know it is boring but it is a whole lot better than the alternative.  Just a quick message “Are we doing gifts this Christmas?” is all it needs to be.

Finally, think about what Christmas is all about for you.  For many people, it is a religious festival, but for us it is a time to celebrate with family (and eat a LOT of good food).  If Christmas is all about presents for you, then go ahead and buy lots, but for most of us, the gifts are not the main event at Christmas.  Instead you could spend your time and money on creating the perfect day for everyone to be together.

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