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The Presents You Don't Want

By Kirthana Devaser

It’s that time of year again where gift exchanging happens in abundance. This Christmas, Britons are expected to spend approximately £24.2 billion on gifts, which averages around £476.05 per person. Imagine how much waste (both physical and monetary) is created during the festive period. It is said the U.K. creates 30% more rubbish during the festive period in comparison to the rest of the year.

A 2020 survey indicated at least over 21 million Britons receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. 1 in 10 even deliberately buy a disliked gift. It averages out to about £41.90 spent on each disliked gift which results in a shocking estimated £5.03 billion that goes down the drain, wasted. Imagine what can be done with £5 billion? To put that into perspective, Budget 2020 disclosed a £5 billion Covid-19 response fund to ensure the NHS and other public services received the funding they need to respond to the outbreak as the situation develops, recovers and returns to normalcy. The amount wasted on gifts (as a nation) could be used to fund a Covid-19 public sector response.

New research has shown 2.7 million people in the UK are still paying off debt from Christmas 2019. So what is the rationale behind this epidemic of monetary waste?

Gift Economy

Gift Economy

The act of giving and receiving gifts is known as the gift economy. Ironically, the economy of gifting defies conventional economics which assumes individuals are utility maximisers based on perceivable monetary gain. Simply put, conventional economics assumes individuals always take into consideration what’s in it for them, how they can maximise their profits. The gift economy proves however that qualitative relationships between people hold greater value. The economy also proves quantitative trade of goods holds greater value.



The Gift Economy has exploded thanks to the consumerism system. Consumerism advocates spending money during the festive season, when in reality the season of giving encourages spreading love instead.  One of the five love languages is Gift Giving. Marketers have used this to their advantage by manipulating people into believing the love language of Gift Giving can only be attained through one’s wallet. Marketers equate price tags to showing love, thus causing a season of spiralling debt.

Can you honestly say every Pound spent on you was well spent and each present you’ve received has been worth the money? Most likely, no.

How much time do you spend scouring the shops and internet for present ideas to only end up buying something unsatisfying? Remember, consumerism wants your money, but your loved ones want your love. Perhaps this year you could sacrifice a more prized possession, time. You could use your time to develop some crafting skills, create something useful that everyone could use, personalise them and hand them out. Next year you can make it even better or add to it. It will be a far more meaningful and well-remembered present and you can be proud you are not feeding the corporate beast!

Once you have reached a certain age, spending time to make someone smile is far more satisfying than watching the unwrapping of an unappreciated gift from under the Christmas tree. Spend time creating a virtual mixtape on Spotify for your good friend or maybe get a box of Strawberries on your next grocery hunt to make mum some fresh jam for her scones.

If you are struggling to craft something and would like some ideas of beneficial gifts this Christmas, check out these 6 Beneficial Gifts to Grab This Christmas.

Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

You do not need to express your love by going into debt this holiday season. So be proud of what you save this Christmas & New Year, not what you spend. Spending a lot is not a sign of wealth, it is a sign of being manipulated by corporate advertising! Remember, delayed gratification is the sacrifice of immediate gain for a long-term benefit. And that my reader, is a sign of emotional maturity. If you want to be wealthy, behave like the wealthy do - save money, build financial security and experience the joy of financial freedom in the long-run!

Tis’ the Season to Save Money, and a Very Wealthy New Year!

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