Christmas Gifts And Exchanges: A Love-Hate Relationship

I have just finished a series of Christmas gifts and exchanges again and here are my thoughts on two separate events.


Friends Christmas Gift Exchange

What I Love About It

  • It is a great excuse for us to meet up. My wife and I are JC classmates and we have a rather tight clique of about 7-10 that have kept in close contact over the years. But as we grow older, everyone becomes “busier” so this is really a great opportunity.
  • We have a fun exchange game. Basically, each of us will prepare a “Heaven” gift with a budget of $50 and another “Hell” gift which is bounded by nothing. On the day itself, everyone will be assigned a number and a number generator will decide who gets to pick first and opened gifts can be snatched away.
  • We roll back the years. This year, a great buddy of mine and I had the same “Hell” idea. Both of us gave 2016 notebooks and a used pen. Both of us have drifted apart over the years but this simple action reminded both of us how close we were back in those days.

What I Hate About It

  • We seldom get useful gifts. The odds are probably one-third that we get something we like and one-third that we get something that we are tempted to list on Carousell for $20.
  • This was probably the worst year ever as there was little “snatching” since there was nothing exciting about most of the gifts. Someone established a quite ridiculous rule of “no foods” and “no repeats” and it’s taking a toll on the quality of the gifts.

Possible Tweaks

  • The Mrs and I could propose to share one gift. That would minimise the cost for us.
  • I have a feeling that if we up the budget to $80 or $100, the quality of the gifts would improve by a lot. But at the same time, it’s pretty risky since the disappointment of receiving a lousy gift would increase.

Kids Christmas Gifts

What I Love About It

  • On my side, I don’t really have a close-knit family, let alone an extended one. But the Mrs is super tight with her cousins and they have an annual Christmas Eve meet-up, mostly over BBQ. It was an eye-opener when I first participated in it almost ten years ago and I have enjoyed the gathering since.
  • We have already done away with gifts for adults a few years back. Hurray!
  • The children (under age 8) are absolutely hyped up over the presents that we give them, so much so that one actually started counting down the seconds when there was still almost half an hour to go before the scheduled time. It’s really fun and enjoyable watching them.

What I Hate About It

  • The children occasionally make unreasonable tantrums to open a few presents first and that shows how spoilt some of them are.
  • I could easily observe that the fun for them lies in the anticipation and the “unwrapping”. Once the presents were unwrapped, I could notice that they couldn’t really care much about them. Most Singaporean children do not understand or experience any form of deprivation.
  • And the above is proven true since most of them stop playing with the toys after a couple of months or even weeks.

Possible Tweaks

  • Since the children value quantity over quality, buy more but cheaper gifts to give them that “kick”
  • Buy boring stuff like pencil cases and water bottles
  • Wait for them to grow up before gifting more useful gifts. For the Mrs’ teenage nephews and nieces, we bought Starbucks cards for them.

I really do enjoy Christmas alot! Although there’s a “minimalist and frugal” me that might not be able to stand some “wastage” during this season of joy and giving. Guess I just have to keep an eye closed during these few weeks. =p

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    6 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts And Exchanges: A Love-Hate Relationship

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Desmond,

        Wishing you a happy new year down under too! If I am not wrong, you are still there right?

    1. SM

      Totally agree on the wastage part. I have a table full of chocolates, biscuits and what not from colleagues. Not just my colleagues but my sisters’ too. There is no way we are going to finish them. And even if we consume some of them, they are unnecessary consumption that do not do any good to our health. Argh…

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi SM,

        Maybe give them away to your neighbours, especially if there are young kids around.

        They value these stuff much more and can afford to have the calories better than us!

    2. Early Retirement SG

      Heyo 15HWW
      I had an interesting gift exchange previously. Budget was $30. And one of the guys brought $30 worth of dishwashing liquid as the exchange.
      I was so hoping to get it, but wasn’t lucky enough to draw that one.
      I was thinking, $30 worth of dishwashing liquid is worth it cos at least it’s useful, instead of some ornament or boliao thing.
      This fella usually brings really ridiculous but useful stuff, like a frying pan, or fan, or some household item.
      But more often than not, most people just buy stuff just for the sake of it. Which is really a waste cos it’s just induced spending.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi ERSG,

        The Mrs got something pretty good this year! A very good knife! Already started using it.

        Your friend, is his thinking along the same track as ours?

        I think next year I will be getting towels. It would be interesting to see my friends’ reactions!