Present and correct

by Bill Ralston / 20 December, 2012
Go on, give yourself what you’ve always wanted.
“That’s not true, I do listen. I’m just not very interested.”/cartoon by Steve Bolton.

Okay guys, listen up. There are only about 52 shopping weeks to Christmas 2013. Going by 2012’s performance, I suspect we had better start now. No, not buying presents for others; buying them for ourselves.

You’ve heard of “buyers’ remorse”, but many of us suffer post-Christmas “receivers’ remorse”. It’s the sinking feeling you get when it dawns on you, yet again, that you’ve become the proud owner of several garish ties (that you no longer wear unless you’re going to a funeral – then you realise, depressingly, you are going to a lot more of those as you age) and some smart black Gold Top socks. Except the problem is that it’s early January and the only thing on your feet are jandals – and it’ll probably be another month before anything resembling a shoe comes near your feet.

Sadly, most of us buy stuff we want for ourselves, then give it to others who probably won’t appreciate it and so will feel let down. The best cure for receivers’ remorse is to buy yourself presents you actually want. The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-December that a US research company had discovered a shopping trend called “self-gifting”.

Apparently, 32% of American Christmas shoppers were now buying goodies for themselves – a massive increase over a figure of just 12% who were self-gifting before the global financial crisis.

Analysts also noted, in the US at least, consumers were spending more than the previous year. It seems recession-hit retailers were massively discounting in pre-Christmas sales and shoppers rose to the challenge. According to the US National Retail Federation, consumers were spending 20% of their total Christmas cash outlay on stuff for themselves.

Canadian newspaper the Globe & Mail attributes this surge in self-gifting to “economic sobriety”, of all things. The fact is that people don’t want to waste money giving others items they don’t need or want and so they’re exchanging gift vouchers and cash in a “buy yourself something nice” kind of way.

As well as retailers heavily discounting, good old Time magazine identified cunning stores that were placing tempting gifts on display to lure you into a self-purchase. Along with the august international media, the Listener – or me, to be precise – believes greed plays a big part in self-gifting. Forget such homilies as “It’s better to give than to receive”. It’s not. It’s far better to receive, especially when you’ve chosen what you’re getting.

With all due respect to my lovely late mother, the worst gift I ever received was a beige woollen T-shirt she had painstakingly knitted for months. Every summer, whenever she visited, I was forced to dig through the drawers for hours before I unearthed the damn itchy thing and put it on. I tried the “Oh, it must be in the wash” excuse once, but then got subjected to an hour-long dissertation on the best method of washing woollens.

When children are small, it’s fine to buy them gifts. If you gave six-year-olds cash and told them to buy what they wanted, heaven knows what they’d come back with. A puppy, a goat or an anaconda. Once the kids hit the teenage years, just give them cash. Any present you buy will embarrass and humiliate them. Then go and buy yourself something to assuage the guilt of not having taken the time and effort to buy them something.

Once your children have become human – usually in their twenties – you really should just give them gift vouchers, because they know exactly what they want and you’ve long since forgotten what people of that age are into. Worse, you can remember, and based on your own life experience from your twenties, you present them with a copy of the Whole Earth Catalogue and a Cheech and Chong album. Behold their confused faces.

Nope, start looking now for what you want for Christmas and begin self-gifting immediately.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Immigration, tourism hold at record levels
71637 2017-04-26 12:18:08Z Economy

Immigration, tourism hold at record levels

by RNZ

Immigration has reached another new record driven by people on work and student visas and returning New Zealanders.

Read more
'No magic figure' for immigration numbers - Andrew Little
71625 2017-04-26 10:11:38Z Politics

'No magic figure' for immigration numbers - Andrew…

by RNZ

Andrew Little has confirmed a Labour government would cut immigration by tens of thousands a year, but is refusing to give a definite figure.

Read more
Indefensible position: The case for Donald
71464 2017-04-26 00:00:00Z Politics

Indefensible position: The case for Donald

by Judith Baragwanath

Judith Baragawanath has had it up to her back teeth with Trump haters.

Read more
Australia's citizenship plan 'slap in the face' for NZers
71621 2017-04-26 00:00:00Z Politics

Australia's citizenship plan 'slap in the face' fo…

by Catherine Hutton

The government should get Australia to sort out the "mess" over new citizenship rules that appear to go back on last year's agreement for Kiwis.

Read more
The Guns of Navarone writer knew he had to have a Kiwi hero
71551 2017-04-26 00:00:00Z History

The Guns of Navarone writer knew he had to have a …

by Charles Hamlin

When Alistair Stuart MacLean sent his heroes up a sheer cliff, he knew he had to have a New Zealander in charge.

Read more
NZ spied on Japan to help US - NSA document
71615 2017-04-26 00:00:00Z World

NZ spied on Japan to help US - NSA document

by Craig McCulloch

Leaked US documents reveal Kiwi spies gathered information about Japan at a whaling conference, then passed it onto the NSA ahead of a crucial vote.

Read more
Mustard with your mustelid? The future of ethical protein eating
70342 2017-04-26 00:00:00Z Innovation

Mustard with your mustelid? The future of ethical …

by Margo White

If we want to feed the masses without wrecking the planet with more intensive agriculture, we might need to reframe our attitude to insects.

Read more