Giving presents to loved ones at Christmas time is a tradition which has been about for a very long time – in fact, giving gifts in December was even observed before Christmas as we know it existed. In pre-Christian times, pagan religions would celebrate the seasons. Around the time of the winter solstice (which falls around 21st – 23rd December) people would give gifts to each other in order to lighten the mood during the darkest part of the year.
Nowadays, a big part of celebrating Christmas is the giving and receiving of gifts. For many retailers, the run up to Christmas is their busiest and most profitable time, and a huge amount of marketing is targeted at shoppers for weeks leading up to the main event. In this year’s Nationwide Christmas Spending Report, it was found that the average person spends around half of their monthly salary on Christmas, with much of this going on presents.
Gift buying etiquette
Of course, a certain amount of thought needs to go into the gifts you’re planning to buy and in many cases there are unspoken rules. For instance, if you are buying a present for a work colleague as part of ‘Secret Santa’, you’re likely to go for something funny or something universally pleasing, like food or drink. Conversely, when it comes to buying presents for your partner or spouse, it’s widely accepted that the gift will have had more thought (and expense) put into it.
Generally speaking, people tend to give gifts to close family and friends, and to those who give gifts to them. Sometimes gifts can arrive unexpectedly, and if you were not planning to give a present in return then there’s nothing to say you have to. However, many people prefer to reciprocate the gesture. As this can be difficult when put on the spot, it’s becoming more common for people to buy one or two generic presents, so that they have something on hand should they need it.
Keep an eye on what you spend on each person, as it’s easy to lose control of this - particularly if you shop for presents without a list. This can cause an awkward situation if you’re giving presents to siblings, for example, where they are likely to see what you have given the other(s). It’s also easy to end up with more presents than you need for one person, and too few for another. While there’s no hard and fast rule about how much you should spend or how many presents to buy, you should have some idea about what’s normal for your circle. Keep this in mind when you shop to prevent embarrassment or that horrible last minute rush.
Average household spend at Xmas
The average adult spends a total of £646 on Christmas altogether, and while each household is going to be different, it may be worth considering your expenses carefully. Many people spend over and above their means around Christmas time, partly due to the pressure of the season. While some households are happy to pay off Christmas over the next couple of months, others may prefer to keep a close eye on their expenses and perhaps scaling back their Christmas plans slightly to avoid having to make any further payments once the decorations have come down.
However you plan to deal with Christmas expenses, remember that there is no right or wrong answer – if you are happy with your personal arrangements and you are confident you can afford all you have planned, then that’s all you need. Never base your Christmas expenses on what other people (seem to) spend. Instead, consider your goals and desires, your available cash, and what you really want from the celebrations. This can help you to see where your priorities lie, and where you may want to look at reducing your expenses.
Christmas present ideas
When looking for festive gifts for your loved ones, doing a little planning beforehand can save a lot of time, money and stress. Leaving presents until the last minute often results in a higher spend on an item or items which you have simply settled upon. Finding the perfect gift for someone at the perfect price is not always easy when you’re in a rush, so plan ahead where you can.
When it comes to deciding what to get, it’s always best to set your budget first and go from there. Staying on budget when you haven’t worked out how much you’re happy to spend and on who is difficult, and can result in you having very little cash left to complete your list. Consider the person you are buying for – what are their likes and dislikes? Do they have a particular passion which can be used as inspiration? For instance, you may not have the budget or the desire to get angling equipment for a co-worker who enjoys fishing, but a fishing themed mug or desk gadget may be more appropriate. When you add this personalised touch to smaller and cheaper gifts, they become much more valuable to the recipient due to the thought which has been put in.
Also keep in mind that there are a huge range of places to find gifts these days – you’re no longer restricted to the shops in your hometown. The internet is by far the most popular method of buying Xmas presents, with 45% of UK adults choosing to shop from home. It has allowed us to compare prices on almost anything we want to buy, so set some time aside to research the presents you’ve got in mind – you may be surprised at the discounts you can find. In addition to this, browsing online shops can help you to pin down that perfect gift for someone if you’re struggling with ideas.
Unique Christmas gifts for him
Buying for men can be tricky, although whether you’re male or female, the better you know somebody the easier it is. You may be buying for a colleague who you don’t know that well, or you could be buying for someone you’ve known for years – either way it can be hard to find that truly unique and exciting gift. Here are some ideas…
Knife and axe-throwing is becoming a popular sport in the UK, and there are many places across the country who can offer completely safe and informative workshops. Buying vouchers for taster sessions can make a really fun and interesting gift - learning how to throw a tomahawk axe at a target is fun, easy to pick up and best of all it can be very cheap. Taster sessions at the UK Knife, Axe, and Tomahawk Throwing Association (KATTA) are just £10, and £5 thereafter.
Whether the man you are buying for has facial hair or prefers to be clean shaven, treating him to a voucher for a proper old fashioned shave (or beard trim!) can be a really great gift. Cut throat and traditional shaves are offered by many barbers, with some adding extras like massage and skincare as part of the process. Costs usually come in at around £20 - £50.
If you’re looking for a high cost present for an important man in your life, a high end watch is always a safe yet thoughtful gift. While these can be extremely expensive when new, you can make great savings on second hand ones. However, it’s important to choose where you buy from carefully, to ensure the watch is clean, in full working order and is genuine. You can find big names like Breitling, Tag Hauer and Rolex from around £500 from H&T, for example.
Unique Christmas gifts for her
Getting prints of your photographs used to be the norm, but now that everything is online we no longer have physical photo albums. If you’re close with the woman you’re buying a present for, why not choose some of your favourite pictures of you both and put them into a nice frame or photo album? This is a cost-effective yet thoughtful gift which is sure to be one of a kind. Photo developers offer packages from around £3 - £10 depending on the photo style.
Purchasing a voucher for a day course or taster session can make a great gift, as it’s something which you can personalise to suit their interests. Giving someone the opportunity to try their hand at something they’ve never done before is a memorable and thoughtful gift. If the person you’re buying for is a fan of cooking, you could send them on a baking course; if they’re into crafts, perhaps basket weaving, and if they like a drink, how about a cocktail class? Prices vary between £10 - £100+ depending on provider – check your local listings.
When you want to spend a little more on an important woman in your life, then jewellery is often a pretty safe yet extremely thoughtful choice – particularly if you take the time to find something you know they’ll cherish for years to come. Buying genuine gold or diamond jewellery can be expensive, but savings can be made when buying second hand jewellery which has been fully cleaned, refurbished and vetted. As well as our physical branches and online shop, H&T also have an eBay page with plenty of beautiful pieces available for that special someone at Christmas time. Prices vary.
Special gifts via H&T
As we’ve mentioned above, our refurbished jewellery and watches make great Christmas gifts for your nearest and dearest. We have a wide range of diamond and gemstone pieces, as well as gold, platinum and silver. All jewellery we sell has been pre-owned, vetted, refurbished and restored before it’s available to buy, which means good-as-new pieces at a fraction of the cost. Many of our jewellery items are one of a kind and completely unique – making them the perfect choice for Christmas gifts this year.