Generosity Part III – Presents

red white and brown gift boxes
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I’m a fairly introverted and shy person. This has its pros and cons, but one of the pros is that I don’t get invited to lots of birthday parties 😀 Not that it matters too much as an adult as you’re not expected to bring gifts any more at our age. But gifts are something that can easily suck up a lot of cashflow.

It’s important not to become that miserly person in your friend group, but that doesn’t mean you have to splash out at every opportunity to give. Everyone has their own level of what they are comfortable giving in terms of gifts, but here’s some of the things we do (and don’t do) to keep it reasonable.


It probably goes without saying, but one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. However sometimes one person’s trash is also just another person’s trash so make sure if you’re giving something you already have that it’s actually something good! We give most of our kids old toys to the Sallies, but sometimes if we come across something that’s in really good condition, has all its pieces and maybe just needs some new batteries then we put it aside to give to future nieces and nephews or to friends with younger children. Much better than having to buy birthday presents for other people’s kids when what we’d be buying would be more or less the same as what we’re giving away.

I’d say that while this works really well with kids’ things, it’s a lot harder for adults and I would only give an adult something second hand if I knew it was something they were really into.

Pitching into hat collections

From time to time I imagine a collection gets taken up at your workplace, either for a gift for someone leaving the organisation or maybe flowers for a bereavement. On these occasions I generally put in something in the range of $10-20 and this money comes out of what we have already budgeted to give away so it doesn’t have any impact on our finances as such. If $10 is beyond your budget, even $2 or $5 is better than nothing. Don’t worry about being perceived as miserly if you can only give a small amount, most people understand everyone is on a different budget and will be glad you’re getting involved.

Secret Santas

A few years ago I gave up on Secret Santa activities. You can’t call me a Grinch because I love Christmas and as Mrs. R2A is Filipino, the Christmas tree and the carols start happening in September in our house! But the fact is that while Secret Santas can be a bit of fun, they are largely an exchange of useless plastic junk that just adds to the global rubbish pile. Or if not that, then more sugary junk food as if we don’t already consume too much of that during the festive season. I love a good workplace bonding activity, but there’s got to be a better way to do it than giving each other rubbish.

Come to a consensus

Last Christmas, my parents and siblings agreed that we don’t need to give each other presents. I guess we are blessed, no one in our family is rich, but nor do we lack anything that we need. And the fact is that in a world where everyone has a subscription for everything, it’s blimmin’ hard to think of what to buy! Books and DVDs used to be the go-to, but now it’s all-you-can-eat by the month for everything under the sun basically. Admittedly, this consensus works because we have kids and can give them gifts instead and that keeps Christmas fun. If it was just us adults and no gifts it would be a pretty dumb Christmas. Or would it? Maybe I’m just not thinking creatively enough.

As always, keen to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Comment Policy: For this blog, I’ve implemented a Comment with Kindness policy. You can read more about it here, but the gist of it is: Follow what I call the “Grandma Rule”. If you wouldn’t take that tone with your grandma, your comment probably won’t make it through moderation.

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