The meaning of Christmas has changed over the decades from a religious and relatively sober festival to an occasion whereby extravagant gifts are exchanged. I just read an article this week that women expect their partner to spend half their week salary on gifts for her, which equates to just under £300 (about $500). Top wanted gifts are top branded shoes or Burberry coat. Men apparently are expecting iPads, Rolex watch and a football season ticket.
According to another research the average UK household will spend around £800 on Christmas this year, with 75% of that going to presents for family and friends, 20% on food and the rest on decorations, cards etc.
To be honest, that is quite shocking.
I remember when I was a child we spend about £10 on presents for each person. We had the tradition with Sint Nicolaas (5th December) to have surprise gifts. Each member of the households had its name dropped in a box and we had to draw one name. For that person you would buy a more elaborate gift and spend maximum £20. To make it more special you had to do some imaginative gift wrapping. This was not simple paper, but often were great pieces of handcraft. We made dolls, treasure chests, jewellery boxes and anything you can think off. We would spend weeks doing this and were very secretive.
Mum was not allowed in your bedroom just in case she found out what you were doing! And to top it all off, you had to write a poem with each gift. Simple rhymes of about 20 sentences was the norm. I think the weeks of effort and thought you put in your gift were more fun that the actual evening and unwrapping
A similar tradition is known in the United Kingdom and United States as “Secret Santa”, whereby people buy gifts for a dedicated person. These then get exchanged at a party in the week leading up to Christmas. It’s a quite common practice under office staff and groups of friends to have a “Secret Santa”. In recent years though many companies have decided to change the recipient from an office worker to a local charity. This seems to be far more rewarding way and more in line with the tradition of the festive season.
Many families however are looking at less expensive ways to celebrate Christmas due to the increase pressure on money driven by the economic downturn. Most will get creative with food, even though there will still be a turkey on the table. Extra ingenuity is needed to get some special and extraordinary gifts. There are some great ways to use your photo archive to create a special present.
I like the idea of a photo album, and by that I do not mean the digital one! Find your local handy craft store and a world of wonders appears. Take an ordinary notebook or photo album, buy some decorations, glue and colourful pens and print out photos of the person the album is for. For better quality prints you can try to get some proper ones from your local photo store. Next it is time to get creative. Set a theme for the book, easiest is a persons hobby and start laying out the pages. It will take some time and effort, and many re-arrangements, before you have the album ready. Don’t worry if you have a few empty pages at the back. What you can do is leave those for the future. You can take some great photos when you give the album and use those photos to finish off the album.
If you are having a Christmas with special guests you can even create a relatively empty photo book. Start with a couple of pages leading up to Christmas. Explain that the rest of the book will be finished after Christmas as you will take many photos over Christmas. A great way to get a long lasting memory of the festive season.
Remember that for most people it is the thought that counts, not the price tag of a gift. Spend some time hunting around for a gift. It will be appreciated more and you will have more fun in finding something special.
It’s about 15 sleeps ’til Santa so you have still time to go present hunting!