In 2016 eBay predicted that there would be more than 115 million unwanted presents exchanged at Christmas time. The value of these unwanted gifts was over £2 billion.
Gift-giving can be a sensitive topic. There may be many reasons for gift giving. Some gifts are given generously and unconditionally, some due to social expectation or a sense of obligation. Whatever the reason for a gift, there is no guarantee that the recipient will like or appreciate it. Gifts may soon be re-gifted, donated or thrown away. Other gifts may be caught up in the next round of decluttering. Yet more are sold online, though the process may be time-consuming and largely unsuccessful when there is already a crowded market of novelty ties and onesies.
Shopping for cheap, throwaway gifts is an extension of the mindless consumerism of our society, which is especially apparent on days like Prime Day and Black Friday, or during the Christmas and New Year sales. Shopping as a leisure activity or as therapy is bleeding us all of time and money. Shopping for ourselves and others is now a major part of our everyday lives.
When will we say ‘Enough!’
In the early 20th century a frustration with gift-giving gave rise to the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving (SPUG) and there have been recent calls for a revival of the SPUG ethos:
Since we are now closer to next Christmas than last Christmas, it may be time to put some thought into your gift-giving plans for later in the year. Stop now if you have already started making a gift-list. Move away from the shopping cart (actual or on-line) and think about alternatives to another round of useless and unwanted gifts.