Should We Still Buy Each Other Christmas Gifts in This Economy?

Sure, buying each other gifts is a time-honoured Christmas tradition, but is it really something that makes sense for us to do if we’re all broke? Let’s discuss this!


A lot of the tradition of Christmas is in the exchanging of gifts with our loved ones. Getting and receiving gifts is fun and it fosters a healthy sense of community. Not to mention a handy way of communicating how much we care for each other without having to think of fancy words that get in the way sometimes.

However, there’s been some criticism over how this tradition has made the holiday more commerically oriented and a drain on economic resources. It sure seems like buying gifts for Christmas is a bad thing. Should we really stop doing it, though? To be sure once and for all, let’s examine whether or not the buying of Christmas gifts is really something to reconsider.

Why Buying Gifts is A Drag

For one, gifts are expensive. Think about the last time everybody celebrated that promotion you got. The one you’ve been eyeing for at your workplace. When Christmas time came about, did you feel obligated to buy something extra special? Of course you did. Everybody else knows you make more money now. This isn’t the time for get all miserly on your loved ones, right? Sure there’s always a reason to save money, but somehow when it comes to gifts, there’s a pressure to live up to what other people see as your worth. Which can get pricey real fast.

Should We Still Buy Each Other Christmas Gifts in This Economy?

Another thing about buying gifts is that it’s not exactly the most effective way to spread the wealth around the family. While you may think that sharing the love by giving gifts to your loved ones is all hunky dory, recall the last time an elder did the same for you. Maybe an aunt bought you a fancy fishing rod with a huge price tag that she didn’t know you already had, or an uncle bought you a custom-engraved video game console that you don’t have the controllers or games for. Buying unnecessary things already contributes to clutter, what more receiving them for free and not having the heart to throw them away. Yikes.

Why Buying Gifts is Great

The tradition of buying gifts doesn’t just mean giving, it also means getting free stuff. Who doesn’t like free stuff, honestly. Especially if the person giving you the gifts knows you very well and they manage to get exactly the thing you’ve always wanted. Or maybe the thing you didn’t even know you needed and have been waiting all year for. Getting gifts like that strengthens bonds between people like nothing else and to get rid of those moments seems like such a horrible reason to eschew a time-honored tradition.

Sometimes it’s not even the gifts that make the tradition important. We’re sure some of you have received unremarkable gifts that hold heavy sentimental value. Maybe it’s an oversized beanie from your sister you’re never going to wear, but you keep it because she mailed it to you from when she was studying overseas. Perhaps it’s an old music box with your name misspelled on it your late grandma gave you right before she passed. Giving is one of the most honest ways to say we care, and for most, buying something is the best they can do and that’s not wrong at all.

So Should We Still Buy Stuff?

Just because gifts are sometimes wasteful doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give any, but just because it’s good to give gifts, doesn’t mean it’s good to buy them. If reading both sides of the argument made you dizzy and undecided, we have some ways you can compromise on this. These are ideas you can use to still keep the spirit of gift-giving without the guilt of wasteful shopping.

  • Make something for your loved ones. It’s much cheaper and if you’re smart about it, it won’t even take much effort. It also gives your gifts a personal touch and nothing quite says Merry Christmas like a custom-made cake.
  • Give the gift of your time and effort. Pass out handwritten vouchers for a free house-cleaning, babysitting, or any other chore you don’t mind doing for people. Everybody can use an extra pair of hands around.
  • Trade for your gifts. You can search online for groups like the Buy Nothing Project or create your own group so you can trade gifts with other people and re-gift them. Easy.
  • Give cash. This one is super simple and obvious. Nobody turns this down. No wonder
    Chinese New Year and Hari Raya adopted this so long ago.

Christmas gift-giving isn’t just about the buying of products. It’s also about the time and effort we put into each other to show how much we care. Even if you’re against the whole commercialisation of it all, it shouldn’t exclude you from this wonderful tradition that brings us all a little bit closer to each other. How are you doing your gift-giving this Christmas? Share the love and let us know in the comments section down below!

Images via Estate Vacation Rentals, Steve Jurvetson from flickr, and Adam from flick.


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