How to lose interest in presents (yes, it can be done)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that birthdays require delicious cake with lashings of icing and a complete lack of regard when it comes to calorie intake.
However, it is a fib, unfortunately universally acknowledged as a truth, that birthdays also require presents – the rationale being that the more expensive the present, the more you love or admire the recipient.
I have pondered this matter deeply, and after accidentally smashing my annual presents budget in six months, I have collected some thoughts on the matter. Helpfully, I have broken these up into sections under well-worn platitudes.
It’s the thought that counts
We give gifts to show we care – or to pretend we do. However, while it might indeed be better to give than to receive, the ‘art’ of gift giving is more often a rather expensive acknowledgement of a relationship, than anything truly meaningful.
Top tip: Spend what you have, not what you hope you can afford. Exceeding what you think the recipient spent on you is pointless. Apparently, one-upmanship is not the purpose of presents.
Experience is everything
Rumour has it that millennials are opting for experiences over gifts, ones that look good on social media, eg sky diving on Jupiter. Despite not being millennials we decided to adopt a similar measure, albeit without the price tag and the side of narcissism. Instead of birthday presents, the birthday person chooses the movie. Sometimes we go gold class for the comfy seats, sometimes we just get a glass of wine.
We are well aware some of our acquaintances think this practice is cheap. Fortuitously we care little for their opinions, bred as they are from society’s ludicrous ideals in regards to what is acceptable.
Top tip: Do something, don’t give something.
Gifts that keep on giving
Buying presents on le plastic fantastic when you can’t afford it means that credit card debt is unfortunately the gift that does indeed keep on giving in the form of interest owed.
As a somewhat extreme alternative, have you considered the other gift that keeps on giving? It’s nothing at all. Literally nothing. You give nothing, they give nothing in return, you both save money. Win win!
Announcing you’re not doing birthday presents anymore can be very liberating. It will probably also irk some chums because some people really do like to give gifts. And your decision in no way prevents them from continuing to. They may just need to check if their fondness for giving is entirely dependent on their fondness for the expected reciprocal gesture.
Top tip: Send cards, send texts, make calls, use telepathy to wish friends and family a happy birthday, many sassy returns this year – but try giving nothing a go and enjoy the literal lack of interest your credit card shows you.
Random acts of kindness
The best gifts are random ones – it’s not your birthday, and the gift might not be particularly expensive but it is thoughtful, you are delighted with it, and you are touched – and there is no need to reciprocate. Unless you want to. In your own time.
Top tip: Be haphazard with presents. It means you can forget birthdays and still look like a good person.
Safety in numbers
Like to give gifts but struggle on the affordability front? Don’t go it alone. Gather up a threesome, a foursome, a gleeful orgy of friends and all put in small amounts of cash to get a super amazing, you guys are the best, sort of present – instead of you all buying average or awful gifts from less than salubrious retailers and suffering the inevitable, awkward and very literal ‘Oh, wow. You really shouldn’t have’.
Top tip: Sometimes it takes two. Or three. Or four. Or – you get the idea.
Gift with purchase?
Is the gift with your purchase a high five from the land of credit at the top of the magical banking tree? Purchasing presents is probably not why credit cards were invented, but it’s why using them to buy gifts to prove our love and affection is a terrible, terrible idea.
Today, my gift to you, dear reader, is a question you need to ask yourself before you next splurge on a present: Can you say ‘I love bank fees’ with the same amount of enthusiasm that you say ‘I love you’?