We think there are five archetypes for modern Christmas gift giving approaches. These impact how you plan and budget for the festive season. From the enthusiast or Santaphile (lovers of this time of year) through to the Santaphobe (those who perceive it all to be a commercial farce) and in between: the dead-liner, thinker and delegator. Which are you? And what does it say about your broader approach to money and personal wealth?
The ‘December is my domain’ gifter
Final touches: This person is prepared for Christmas by now. These last few weeks are really just the final sprint. Christmas is a marathon that has been run for months.
Organised: This person purchases and collects little gift ideas and trinkets throughout the year because an object or present reminded them of a loved one, not because the big day is just around the corner and the tree looks bare.
Presentation counts: The gift-wrapping is on point. It’s neat. The sticky tape is minimal. The bow perfectly complements the paper.
Meaning: The gifts themselves don’t need to be over-the-top, but they’re always relevant and heartfelt.
No one misses out: This gifter has even gone to the trouble to to a gift organised for that weird distant uncle Brian who has been unknowingly brought along with the cousins.
There’s a chance that gift recipients will stumble upon the gifts before Christmas. Find somewhere to stow all gifts in the lead up to Christmas that isn’t obvious and is unpopular. Pick somewhere no one wants to look, a cleaned-out disused council garbage bin perhaps? Behind cleaning products and the vacuum cleaner in a closet.
Plan for the unplanned. Have a few small things such as wine or chocolates that can be given to people you may have inadvertently left off your list. These small gifts will not go to waste! And don’t be afraid to ditch the expensive wrapping paper for fun, handmade gift decorations. Some brown craft paper and a little imagination can go a long way. (Plus, if anyone has spare time this month for craft, it’s you!)
When it comes to your finances, you’re what we call an enthusiast. m2 to hyperlink
The ‘I’m as surprised as you are’ non-gifter
Hail the other half: This category is dominated by one half of a couple who has happily relinquished the gift choosing, gift purchasing and gift wrapping to their other half (likely a ‘December is my domain’ type, see above).
Ignorance is bliss: They have literally no idea what’s beneath the raffia and wrapping paper. In fact, they do not even know which gift is ‘from’ them or from other family members. Their name is signed on every card, albeit not by them.
Cash contribution: Despite having little skin in the game, this ‘non-gifter’ enjoys Christmas day. They do not feel guilt for the lack of contribution to the gift giving process. After all they have technically contributed, by way of money. They simply don’t know how much or on what.
Showing too much surprise at the contents of presents from you or on the flipside becoming visibly disinterested due to lack involvement in the gift-giving process. Remember to nod knowingly when the present is revealed and make comments along the lines of “we knew you’d like it” or “we saw it and thought of you straight away”.
Take time, even on Christmas eve, to write more meaningful Christmas cards to everyone to compensate for the lack of non-monetary input.
When it comes to your finances, you’re what we call an delegator.
The ‘throw money at the problem’ gifter
Quality counts: This gifter goes all out. The gifts are big, expensive and pack-a-punch.
Last minute: These gifts are purchased on the eleventh on and seldom wrapped by the gifter. No time, you see.
Distracted in December: This person routinely thanks the heavens for the late shopping hours in December and spends his/her work days from mid-December onwards coordinating gifts during work hours rather than actually working.
Paying for presentation: This person is addicted to the panic but manages, always, to pull a large, shiny, designer rabbit out of the hat. They are totally comfortable paying for the wrapping of the rabbit, outsourced to the charity-wrappers in the shopping centre.
Horrendously overspending on gifts that have little relevance or meaning to the recipient under duress amidst mosh-pit crowds at the last minute. Instead, right now, write a quick list of key people you need to buy gifts for and the ideal gift for them. Tonight, spend one hour online sourcing those gifts. You might find a bargain plus you can often opt in for gift-wrapping and it will conveniently arrive at your address without you having to rush around the shopping centre when you should be at work.
If you’ve accumulated frequent flyer or rewards points over the year, now is a great time to cash them in for trips, accommodation and gifts. Get online and get a little more prepared this year.
When it comes to your finances, you’re what we call an avoider.[M2 ro hyperlink]
The‘thoughtful and useful’ gifter
Purpose: This person finds or creates gifts that are less material and more meaningful. Younger ones might get the Sticky9 instagram magnets, and older ones might make candles or puddings or find useful books and objects in line with the recipient's interests.
Researchers: This category often includes those men: dads and grandfathers, who take time to seek out useful gifts for those near and dear.
Relevant: If you’re getting your license, this gifter will get you something for your car. If you’re pursuing a new passion, say painting they’ll add to it with a new paint brush kit or a one-day course.
Down with gift cards: The one characteristic that binds the thoughtful and the useful gifter together is their zero tolerance approach to gift cards. You’re not getting a soulless piece of plastic from this gifter, no way Jose.
To give meaningful gifts, one needs time. Time is no longer on your side my friend. We’re a few weeks out from Christmas which means the internet is now your friend. Get online and get creative with your Google searches!
The upside is that, if you’re in anyway skilled or craft, you’ve a few weeks to get practical. Plus you already know that great presents don’t have to come with a hefty price tag. If you always have the playlist everyone envies, make some CDs. If you’re a great cook or home brewer, whip up a batch of tasty treats.
When it comes to your finances, you’re what we call a DIY type.[M2 ro hyperlink]
The ‘gifts are wasteful’ and 'Christmas is too commercial' non-gifter
Christmas cringe: This person thinks the emphasis on material goods at Christmas is wasteful and meaningless. It’s become so commercialised that all meaning has been lost and they’ve long since decided to give up the charade.
No-gift declaration: This gifter is the one who does a quick, polite ring-around in November to announce “we’re not doing gifts this year” in the hope that their friends and family will see reason and follow suit.
Commercial hoopla: This gifter is acutely aware of the commercial imperative to buy gifts, and they’re having none of it. They are sometime referred to as Santaphobics despite not fearing Santa, but overt commercial puppetry.
Source of conflict: Problem is that in any one family is made of the whole gamut of giver-types: gregarious gifters, delegators, thoughtful crafty types and last-minuters. And they all like to give gifts. The other gifters will butt heads with this type of non-gifter, for they simply cannot appreciate the simplicity and logic in removing gift-giving from the festive season.
The decision to move away from giving gifts is often a controversial one. It interrupts the flow the day, for what do the non-givers do during the unwrapping? And what if your friends and relatives derive so much joy from giving that they simply insist upon giving you a gift (know full well reciprocity will not occur)? Because, if a non-gifter receives a gift after proclaiming their non-gifting stance, then a world of awkward ensues. Gift-giving at Christmas is historically a two-way pursuit.
Write meaningful cards at Christmas or contribute (significantly) to the cooking process, this should take the sting out of your non-gifting stance and ease the family into your Christmas ethos.
When it comes to your finances, you’re what we call a player. [M2 ro hyperlink]