Christmas is almost here and the season for gift shopping is well underway. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of my friends and family tell me that they have no idea what to get someone in their life. When I’ve suggested asking the individual what they want or need, there seems to be an aversion to the idea. In recent years, I have also noticed that less and less of the people (even children) I know are even bothering to write out gift or wish lists. What happened to this holiday tradition? And why is it that those of us who do still make a gift list often feel like we’re wasting our time? The gift list as become a very underrated tool for modern day shopping.
This shift doesn’t just apply to the Christmas season either. Other gift giving holidays and birthdays no longer seem to require asking the recipient what they would like to receive. This has, quite honestly, grown to be a rather annoying part of gift giving which has contributed to my desire to withdraw from all forms of gift exchange.
Giving gifts during the holidays has become more of an obligation and chore than a thoughtful gesture for the ones we care about…Which has sadly also lead to the wonderful trend of re-gifting. Instead of buying something which may be useful, sentimental, or otherwise meaningful for the receiver; we’ve begun to default to buying gift cars which will never be used, pre-made gift baskets full of items which will be thrown out, and accessories which will collect dust in the back of a closet.
The biggest disappointment I have found in recent years is that even when I take the time to write up a gift list (including links to the item, prices, sizes, colours, and all other necessary information to purchase the items) often times I do not even receive a single thing on the lists I have made. When I’ve asked people as to why this is, they all tell me “because then it’s not a surprise”.
Let me be the one to say that I would much rather receive a gift of something I actually need or want than be surprised by something that I will eventually forget about or throw away. You’re just wasting your money and time.
By all means, if you find something you know that person will love, enjoy, use, or has very significant meaning to them, please buy it. But let us consider bringing back the gift lists. Let them tell you what they actually need in their lives. The best gifts I have gotten have been ones which have enriched my life in some way and I’ve been able to use them time and time again. It might seem boring to just buy your friend a package of socks, but if that’s what they are asking for, help them out and get the socks! Because if you don’t, after you exchange gifts your friend will still need those socks and they spent a lot of their hard earned money on gifts for other people already; they may not be able to afford them now.
During the holidays we make sacrifices for the tradition of giving gifts, and so many times we feel like we ended up with the short end of the stick. Companies anticipate the return, exchange, and resell of unwanted gifted items. I believe it’s time we break this cycle.
Ask for a gift list or a wish list. Follow it. Give someone the gift of not having to worry. Give them a gift of something frivolous they may have wanted by could never get around to buying themselves. Give your loved ones something that they will actually use, cherish, want, and keep. Stop standing in crowded shopping malls wondering what to buy for each person, hoping something will pop out at you. Know that your money is being wisely spent and not being pawned off on someone else or thrown in the trash.
If Santa Claus still needs lists from children after hundreds of years, I don’t see why we can’t use them too.