Getting Over Gifts: Planning Ahead for Next Christmas

The true spirit of Christmas is the joyful celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. However, because Christmas is also a symbol, everybody is allowed to give it the meaning they want and to celebrate it any way they want. This is the same reason Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (even if they believe it’s Mexico’s Independence Day and not the commemoration of a famous battle).

Many non-Christians celebrate Christmas. For example, in Japan, it’s a romantic date day, when people act like we do on Valentine’s Day, except with Christmas decorations. For some indigenous people in Mexico, it’s the birth of God Child (El Niño Dios, who also happens to be called Jesus), because the image of a white European Jesus that looked exactly like their conquerors didn’t catch on for some reason.

Christmas in Japan also means cake, Kentucky Fried Chicken
and non-religious amazing Christmas Displays (no, really!)

However, I’m sure that whatever Christmas means to you, we can agree that it isn’t “to show our love to others by buying the most expensive material things we can from big corporations.” After all, Christmas has been around far longer than Wal-Mart or Toys’R’Us. I think the celebration could use a bit more human and a bit less dollar, which is why I wrote this list.

Note that these suggestions will not work for everyone. If your child is asking Santa for Battlefield 4 for the PS4, he will not be happy unless he finds a copy of Battlefield 4 for the PS4 under the Christmas tree (at which point, maybe you should be more worried about why your child is so spoiled and playing violent video games).

It’s better to speak with your family and friends and see if you can’t come to an agreement about a new gift-giving practice. And what better time to do that than while the whole bunch of you are sitting there next to the tree on Christmas Day after an orgy of gift giving? That’s the perfect time to suggest doing something different next year. Some people will agree, some will roll their eyes at you, and some will erase you from their gifting list (which sucks, I agree, but then, that’s also kinda the point).

Did we really need this?

1. Give presents only to children.

We adults have the means to buy our Christmas presents. Children don’t. That’s why it’s so exciting for them to open the presents and get a treasure that they can’t get otherwise.

In theory, when giving a present to another adult, we take some of our time to analyze the person’s tastes and then go look for something uncommon that appeals to those tastes, therefore adding to the gift more value than its price. However, the sad reality is that most presents fail to meet this standard. So why make people buy another book for you that you’re not going to read, or a movie that your not going to read?

2. Give useful presents.

Another option is to give something actually useful. This method typically requires talking about the present and giving it away before Christmas, spoiling the surprise. But on the other hand, it has the advantage of being actually, ah…., useful.

For example, instead of getting socks (really, who gives socks for Christmas???), I’d rather have the broken handle of my car’s door fixed, or an ink cartridge for my printer, or a charger for rechargeable batteries, or a brick to put under the short leg of my desk.

People always need something, and this gifting idea allows you to still give a present but one that will actually benefit them. The benefits are also typically long term. For example, a new couple might appreciate help with this month’s rent, a new parent might benefit from a month’s worth of diapers, and an old parent can use having his or her prescriptions filled or getting that much needed medical exam.

My grandpa really needed last year’s present

3. Give funny/silly presents of ONE kind.

Here’s how it works. You talk with your friends or family and you agree on one type of silly or funny present. Then you get assigned a person (you normally don’t know who you get assigned to) and you have to get that person that type of present on a future get-together.

It seems to work better with things that you can wear. So far, I’ve seen it with slippers and t-shirts with funny messages, but there’s no reason not to use your imagination and do it with caps, funny hats, necklaces, earrings, etc. I haven’t tried it yet, but funny mugs seem to be a good idea too.

Let’s take slippers for example. For your hairy, hulking uncle, you can buy him bear slippers or for your sweet little girl cousin, a pair of pink Hello Kitty slippers. For your nephew, dragon claw slippers. What slippers you buy will depend a lot on the person, of course, but it limits the spending, reduces greatly the risk of disappointment (since you know it’s going to be a $20 item anyway) and it’s great for laughs and for a picture of everyone wearing their slippers.

Exception: Do not do funny underwear.

4. Invite them to a place and share time together.

This is the one I most commonly use. Instead of buying them a present, I invite my really close friends to a nice restaurant. It’s a great excuse to have some good conversation and alcohol at the same time. It’s also more intimate (not like that, your pervs!) and creates great memories.

I know this fourth point is short, but really, there’s not much to it and that’s part of it’s beauty: good friends, good food, good drink, and good memories.

Those are my suggestions for Christmas. If you have any other ideas, let me know in the comments.

Also, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And a Happy New Year!

When not busy mixing his whites with colors, Flippy works as a writer, translator, and language teacher. In his free time, he plays video games, takes photos, and writes funny stuff. You can find his humor book, Flippy’s Life Lessons Stuff Every Single Man Should Know, published by Relentlessly Creative Books on

Copyright 2013, published with permission of the author.