Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast

6 Rules for gift-giving this Christmas

BY Andy Webb

20th Dec 2018 Christmas

6 Rules for gift-giving this Christmas

Christmas gift shopping can be laborious and stressful if you don’t prepare for it well. Save yourself the trouble this year by following these six simple tips…

We’re nudging closer and closer to Christmas. You may be looking forward to getting all festive with friends and family. Or you might be full of dread at how much it’s going to cost—and it’s easy to see why.

The biggest expense for most is buying presents. Last year the consultancy firm Deloitte estimated that UK adults would spend £284 each just on Christmas gifts. To me that seems low. I know many people who will spend that just on their kids or partner. When you throw in grandchildren, friends and colleagues you can expect that total to be a lot higher. So how do you still get great gifts without breaking the bank? Here are a few tried and true rules to follow.


1. It’s OK to regift

I’ll start with a potentially controversial one. How often have you received a gift from a beaming friend who’s confident it’s perfect for you? But it’s not. At best you simply don’t need it. At worst, you hate it.

So it sits unopened and unloved at the back of the wardrobe (if you didn’t take it to the tip or charity shop). It’s a complete waste, so it’s better to pass it on this Christmas to someone who will appreciate it.

Doing this isn’t ungrateful, and you’re not being a Scrooge either. You’re simply making good use of something that just isn’t for you. Of course, you do need to make sure it’s in good nick, and genuinely think that the person you regift it to would like it. And make sure you remember who gave it to you in the first place— you don’t want to give it back to them by mistake!

xmas pressies.jpg

2. Get them what they want

You think you’re great at giving presents? Well if you’ve received bad presents in the past then you’ve probably also given a dud gift yourself.

The simple solution is to ask people what they want. Ideally, ask them to give you a few options, and if money is tight let them know your budget (more on this in a bit). Kids in particular will have a Christmas list which should make it a lot easier.


3. Keep the receipt

Of course, many of you will want to keep the gift a surprise. So if you don’t want to ask, it helps to include a gift receipt. This way, if it’s not something the receiver wants or needs they can exchange it for something they do want. The same goes for clothes too, in case the size isn’t right.

This gets a bit harder if you shop online, so you just need to be upfront about it. Let the recipient know you’re happy to exchange the gift yourself if it’s not right.

present surprise.jpg

5. Know your budget

If you’re buying lots of gifts it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending. So the simple solution is to have a budget. Obviously there’s the total amount of money you plan to spend, but it’s also worth having a limit on each individual you’re buying for too.

This budget should be set based on how much you can afford to spend, not how much the desired gifts will cost. Though it’s always tempting to treat our loved ones, they’d hate to know you’re getting into debt as a result.


6. Consider a “Secret Santa”

If you don’t have the money to spend on lots of gifts, there are a few alternatives.

You can agree on a price cap with friends and family to which you all adhere. This way you’re all spending the same amount. Or you could run a “Secret Santa” scenario in a small group. Rather than buying five presents of £10, you could each buy a single, more valuable present of £30.

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit