I see people fall into the same time/money
wasting traps, year after year.
I have fallen into those traps myself but,
unlike others, I have learned from my mistakes.
Don’t be over-generous, or mean or give
precedent-setting gifts, just because you like
a thing, it doesn’t mean anyone else will go for
suitability and proper niceness over quirk or
gift kudos. Never give cigarettes or toothpaste
unless the person is in prison.
Fads, trends, crazes make bad gifts. I have wasted literally
thousands of dollars on these.
A silver charm bracelet is a lovely idea and it means you
don’t have to think about you goddaughter’s gift ever again.
You can keep buying tiny pairs of scissors and horse heads
until you die. But in reality, the kid loses it almost immediately
(for example, it falls down a crack between the floorboards
in the hall, where some wires also go and without lifting the
floorboards, etc etc.)
Of course, the godmother keeps sending charms, year after
year, to add to the bracelet and these get put in a drawer but,
because they’re not fixed on to an actual bracelet, they get
lost too. And whenever the godmother comes to the house she
keeps glancing at the kid’s wrist and it’s all very awkward.
Don’t start a funeral plan for anyone or buy them a carpet
shampooer. Death and hard work are un-Christmassy and
A common, expensive, precedent-setting mistake.
My mother used to add a Mr. Men book, a dragonshaped
eraser and a novelty sweetie of some
kind to bulk up gifts to her grandchildren. All
added up, this meant she’d spend somewhere
in the region of a thousand dollars just on
bulker-uppers. Bulker-uppers are never a
As well as the cost, including the
environmental cost, there’s the awful truth
that the bulking items — the Kinder egg,
the Rimmel nail polish, the fridge magnet
of David Hockney’s sausage dog, Stanley
— are often so much nicer and more
appealing than the actual box of Star
Wars Lego or the biography. Stop bulking
up — it’s the antithesis of Christmas.
The Formula Or
You know this one person likes Dolphins or Pam
Ayres and you buy to that formula, year after year
after year. My dog-loving sister has apparently received
the film “Best in Show” six times, from the same three people
Basically, if the idea is that good, someone else will
probably already have thought of it — perhaps even the person
Practical and sensible, but vouchers are just not Christmassy
and afford no joy. I’d go as far as to say I hate giving (or getting)
any kind of token or voucher. And no matter how much thought
you’ve put into them (joke,) they seem lazy and dull.
The only exceptions being some kind of weird marriage
proposal/sex voucher. Or a personal pledge to clean the car,
inside and out, including door surrounds.
The absolute Christmas gifts you can give
By Nina Stibbe
Originally Printed In the New York Post • December 8, 2017