You can spend Christmas in many ways. With family. With friends. Or alone in hostel such as me, because of my around the world trip. Even though Christmas is time of happiness, stress is difficult to avoid with so many things to do: cooking, cleaning, scheduling and so on.

Oh, and the presents.

Captured by goods - The Christmas presents now and then

Traditionally the presents have been packets under the Christmas tree. Meaning physical products.

But nowadays everybody can go to supermarket to buy a pajama and a pair of wool socks. For me, Christmas presents have been a huge stress factor. It feels so insane to buy a present to the receiver knowing that he could have bought it easily by himself. And if it’s a surprise gift, too often it has been left untouched. That’s why I don’t want to buy anything expensive. But I feel that I have to.

If a gift does not hit the spot, it may even cause extra effort for the receiver. It feels like a duty to read the gift book whether you like it or not.

Last summer I was helping my mother while she was moving out from her big house to a smaller apartment. During one week we took eight trailer loads of stuff to a landfill. There were also useful items: beds, unopened shelves and lamps purchased from IKEA, dishes, a footbath machine, a gym ball… In addition, a lot of stuff was given away or sold. You can see the magnitude from the main image of this blog post.

Among the other stuff, there were many Christmas and birthday gifts.

I think you got the point.

Gift cards are basically good options for goods, but they also have their challenges. I myself have forgot to use some movie tickets and I’m sure somebody have done the same for the gift vouchers given by me.

Christmas presents have became a social puzzle

In my case, the Christmas celebration with a big group has brought its own challenges. Although we see many times a year with my relatives, let’s not pretend it. I do not have a clue what everybody wants or needs without a wish list. And I just told how cheesy wish lists feel.

However, everybody should be remembered somehow. And the worst-case scenario would be that one gives a super expensive gift, and the other a mere box of chocolate.

I want to give some gift, but the whole set feels overwhelming.

What are the options for Christmas presents?

My grandfather has a genius solutions to the problem. Every Christmas a box of chocolate appears under the Christmas tree. It’s so predictable habit that I always wait it with great eagerness.

The services and gift vouchers are great choices especially, if the receiver can make the final choice.

Now it’s easier than ever to purchase second hand goods from internet which makes more space to the budget. And I don’t see it as a shameful action to sell or recycle some old gifts when they are not serving the purpose anymore.

A Christmas present can be even totally free. One Christmas I made a treasure hunt to my family lasting the whole December. The mystery got its climax at Christmas eve when a video recorded story revealed the location of the gift that was very plain.

I heard an interesting strategy to make the whole process easier for everyone. In this Austrian family, they draw one name for each person to whom you should buy the present. In Finland, this is a common practice in pre-Christmas events but not when it comes to actual presents.

Presents for children is a chapter of its own. Kids often have very strict demands for presents and they will genuinely enjoy receiving presents. it’s straight forward. But the big number of presents is what distracts me the most. As I have done dozens of visits as a Santa, I have seen hefty piles of Christmas presents. Personally, I feel that less would be enough but all the parents make their own decisions.

When it comes to Christmas presents, keep it simple

Let’s not fool ourselves. A good board game, chocolate and wool socks make the Christmas. But maybe that’s the key. The presents don’t have to be anything big, expensive or unexpected.

But if I’m sometimes arriving to birthday parties or Christmas meal without a super awesome present, don’t take it personally. It’s for your best. We will avoid awkward “Okay… very nice gift” moments. Additionally, you are privileged to be part of the revolution that changes the way we think about giving presents.

Mutually, I can’t expect to receive anything greater than a box of chocolate myself. But the thing is, during the last three months I have been traveling around the world having all my stuff in a backpack. I don’t need more. Sometimes I think myself “Why I have this shirt with me?”.