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Off topic: Christmas gifts, my forever headache
Thread poster: xxxwonita
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 22:29
Dec 14, 2008

I have everything I need;
My children, they even have everything they don’t need.

Shall we celebrate this Christmas without gifts?


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
You don't have to go cold turkey... Dec 14, 2008

You can use any of your many skills to make them something special.

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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:29
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
to go further on with this... Dec 14, 2008

Do we really need presents to be happy?
I hate inventing presents, because I prefer buying things when I need them and never wait for the official holidays to do it. Why should I?
Demand-driven acquisitions are more useful than the ones occurring through "it is just a tradition" approach.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:29
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Gifts don't have to be "things" Dec 14, 2008

You could offer "services" to each other, writing them out perhaps on hand-made and decorated cards, for instance "I'll make dinner 3 times a week," or "I'll clean your car for you," or "I'll drive you kids to the arcade next week" -- I'm just making this up, but you get the idea! They'd be like "IOUs".

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xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would do away with Christmas presents Dec 14, 2008

I hate Christmas shopping too and if I could I would do away with Christmas presents altogether. Sergei's posting sums it up perfectly.

However, I think Christmas deserves to be established in everybody's personal calender as a special time. So many people have warm memories about when they were children and what happened at that time of the year; it would probably be nice to create these memories for your children too. Also, maybe this year you have a happy Christmas, maybe you can take the opportunity to store up good moments because another year it might be sad.

In our personal case -but I can't say how other people feel about this- going to Church is very important and when my girls were younger we made a big deal of preparing the tree and the creche at the beginning of December and we commented the Nativity scene repeatedly.

Even if you don't share this religious view, there are many different ways of making a family meal special (the tablecloth, the music, the lights, the food itself). You can have games, play-acting... as David says, you can come up with dozens of creative ideas.

If you don't share the tradition of Santa Claus, maybe you could have what we call an "amigo invisible" (invisible friend). Several days before the event, each participant draws the name of one of the others and has to prepare a very inexpensive gift but also to send this person a series of messages and (false?) clues about the identity of the invisible friend. For a few days this game creates a special bond between different members of the family (or neighbours, friends).

In any case, my best wishes for your Christmas!

Lucía

[Edited at 2008-12-14 17:18 GMT]


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Maria Castro  Identity Verified
Portugal
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
create your own gifts or do it with the kids Dec 14, 2008

This works just fine with my five-year-old daughter.
Whenever there's a birthday or a special occasion to celebrate we create our own gifts. Nothing expensive, no shopping, just use your imagination. It just has to be something with meaning: a postcard, a drawing, a poem, a piece of craftswork. My daughter loves it and she feels very proud because she is offering something she did with her own hands.
At the same time we spend a wonderful time together, so I think it's perfect...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:29
English to Portuguese
+ ...
One suggestion Dec 14, 2008

My late father used to say that the perfect gift is:
something the recipient would like to have, but that s/he'd never buy it on their own initiative.
(The reason they wouldn't is irrelevant.)

So far, every time I used it, this technique has never failed.

See if it fits.


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M Helena Ayala
United States
Local time: 18:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great advice! Dec 14, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

My late father used to say that the perfect gift is:
something the recipient would like to have, but that s/he'd never buy it on their own initiative.
(The reason they wouldn't is irrelevant.)

So far, every time I used it, this technique has never failed.

See if it fits.



Thanks José Henrique.


Bien Tiede: What about having your kids "donate" their gifts (or one of their gifts/toys) to needy children?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:29
English to French
+ ...
You beat me to it Dec 14, 2008

José wrote:

My late father used to say that the perfect gift is:
something the recipient would like to have, but that s/he'd never buy it on their own initiative.


In my case, it's not my father who says this but me. It's the basic principle of catering to a person's desires.

My family often says things like "I need this, so buy me this if you do buy me something". No. I am not buying anybody winter boots, pots and pans, lamps, etc., because if they really need them, they will get them anyway. Giving Christmas gifts isn't about saving money for the people we give the gifts to. Otherwise, Christmas would be all about money, and we would feel obliged to buy gifts even when there really isn't a reason to (like buying gifts for our spouse's parents). Also, giving something to someone because they need that something isn't as nice a surprise and as much of a gift as giving them something they do not need at all. Plus, if you buy them things they need, how do you know you got them the item with the features, in the sizes and of the model they would prefer? In other words, it is much harder to make someone happy with an item they need than with an item they don't need.

When I bought my sister a Berger lamp (pretty, decorative oil lamp that smells nice and cleans the air somewhat), she was really happy and she never expected that kind of gift. She is also the kind of person who has everything. Guess what? The lamp is on the kitchen counter and she uses it almost every day. Now, that's a gift!

This year, I bought one of my sisters a claymore sword. She is into everything Scottish, especially from the medieval era. A sword is something so useless she would never buy it. That's what she has me for! That's what Christmas is for.

Think about it. Christmas is about love, it's about making your loved ones happy. Therefore, it certainly isn't about how much you spend and how classy or fashionable your gift is compared to the other person's gift. My sister loves everything Scottish but would never spend on all those neat Scottish items she would love to have. My way of making her happy is to get her something she is passionate about. Never mind whether she needs it or not.

To answer Bin's question, I think it is easy to get something for people who have everything. Just focus on making them happy. The whole point of gift-giving, to me, is to make an effort to find something that person will be happy to get. I can get really excited about a $10 gift if I can feel that it was chosen specifically for me. And for that, you need to know them well. When you have no clue what to get for a certain person, then maybe that's a sign that, if you really care about that person, you should try to get to know them better (that's also one of the points of Christmas - loving people also means being interested in them and trying to get to know them). If that isn't feasible, that most likely means you aren't close enough to that person to buy a gift for them, in which case you get them chocolates, wine, an iTunes gift card, etc. Hint: books are always great gifts. If the person you are getting a gift for is passionate about just one thing, chances are that books have been written on the subject. And not all books were made for the reading type - picture books are great even for people who don't read much.

[Edited at 2008-12-14 19:16 GMT]


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Multitran
Argentina
Local time: 22:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Christmas Gifts Dec 14, 2008

I love to give and receive presents for Christmas. It's the best period of the year for me, I enjoy it a lot.

Regards,

Liliana


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:29
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
activities and memories Dec 15, 2008

I don't remember from year to year what I've gotten for my sister's kids, or what she's gotten for my kids, or what we've gotten for each other (if anything), but I do remember taking out "the whole gang" to do things like going ice skating or to play laser tag over the winter holidays. The opportunity to be together, doing things that you don't normally do, making memorable times together--I always think that is a good idea instead of just getting "stuff."

In a similar vein, in the past I've also used special classes (dance, arts&crafts, etc.) as gifts for my kids.


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Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers.
Spain
Local time: 03:29
English to German
+ ...
Give an experience! Dec 15, 2008

Hello Bin,

I do like shopping but not for Christmas. What I really despise is 'having to have' a gift. I usually keep my eyes open during the year so I mostly have a collection of nice things in advance. However, I prefer not to give anything than one of those obligatory gifts. The recipient can usually tell and I find it embarassing and not very respectful. I want to see that person's face light up with a happy smile or surprised expression that comes from the heart and not from politeness or obligation.

A nice gift for parents:
Dinner date with organized babysitter and driving service
You need:
A restaurant (known or unknown to them, but yes! known to you as you must decide whether the menu will be to their liking) who will issue a voucher. Just check for a nice complete menu with appropriate wine and maybe a glass of champagne and have it issued for that sum. Make sure that the voucher has no or an acceptable expiry date. Also check if there are any limitations for the voucher (exclusion of dates, advance booking, etc.)
Additionally you need:
- one person to babysit (who should be familiar with the child/ren, able to handle them and be liked by them and vice versa) and
- one experienced driver person for chauffering.
As you see, this gift is even suitable to be given by several persons.

If you are a bigger group (or if this family is really tricky because they hardly have any time at all) you might round up more folks and add tickets for the ballet/theatre, a concert, a cool exhibition, a vernissage, a fashion show...whatever you can think of.
You will see that they will like the idea of having some carefree p2p-time without having to worry about babysitting or driving.

Apart from that, here are a few ideas, too:
http://www.mydays.de/


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:29
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Experiences - treasure hunt and playhouse Dec 17, 2008

This thread has given me a lot of pleasure, reading about new ideas for experiences and gifts and thinking back on some of the experiences I've received. Two of the least expensive:

One Christmas my father created an indoor treasure hunt for the three of us, i.e., with a separate set of clues and trails for each of us (our little sister couldn't read at the time, so the clues were read to her). I will always remember it, though I was too young to think to save my set of clues (on slips of paper like fortune cookie fortunes), much to my regret now.

Another year, when I was even younger, my mother made an indoor playhouse out of the heavy cardboard carton that the first washing machine was delivered in; it had 4 walls, open at one corner and no roof, and was papered with remnants of the wallpaper she'd hung around the house. That's not exactly an experience, I grant you, but a backdrop for experiences.

Terry


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Poisson rouge
Germany
Local time: 03:29
German to French
+ ...
Surprises!! Dec 18, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

My family often says things like "I need this, so buy me this if you do buy me something". No. I am not buying anybody winter boots, pots and pans, lamps, etc., because if they really need them, they will get them anyway. Giving Christmas gifts isn't about saving money for the people we give the gifts to. Otherwise, Christmas would be all about money, and we would feel obliged to buy gifts even when there really isn't a reason to (like buying gifts for our spouse's parents). Also, giving something to someone because they need that something isn't as nice a surprise and as much of a gift as giving them something they do not need at all. Plus, if you buy them things they need, how do you know you got them the item with the features, in the sizes and of the model they would prefer? In other words, it is much harder to make someone happy with an item they need than with an item they don't need.


This is exactly it. In my family, we tend to send each other lists of ideas, but I had to boycott it this year, as I don't actually want to receive anything on that list, I want a SURPRISE. What is the point of saying "I would like this book" and getting it? I could get it myself! And no, I am not buying rewritable CD for my uncle, that's the kind of thing you buy at the supermarket. I was thinking of creating a sort of form for the family (well I have a rather large family I spend Xmas with...) where everybody would fill in sizes (to make sure I get glove sizes right, etc.), latest hobbies/interests/craze, a "no-no" list (what people actually DON'T want to have), just to have details and perhaps get ideas when going around shops. I am beginning to LOATHE wish lists. I actually love Christmas, I love buying presents and having the impression I have bought just the right thing and I love all presents I am given (ok, most of them...). I want people to have thought of me when they bought or made my gift, I want them to have thought: "She would like that". Even if it's just a book, I want it to have been bought for me. Christmas is not for paying for things other people could pay for, but a traditional moment when one thinks of other and one gives a bit of magic and thoughtfulness. That's why I love all "experience" presents, like the ones that where mentioned here. Unusual, surprising: that's what a gift should be like!


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:29
Swedish to English
+ ...
Charity Dec 18, 2008

This year my son has given his dad a sheep, my sister got clean water and my parents got solar panels...

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/Hub.aspx?catalog=Unwrapped

Most of the people I "should" buy presents for don't live in the same country and can afford to buy anything they want for themselves - and would probably prefer to. I know that they appreciate these "gifts" and I think that it goes some way to making me feel less cynical about Christmas's rampant commercialism.


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Christmas gifts, my forever headache

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