Roisin Gorman’s Open Letter… on rubbish Christmas gifts

‘If only this event happened on the same date each year, panic-buying the dregs of picked-over gifts could be avoided’

Last-minute Christmas shopping leads to dread and disappointment — and that’s just the giftee© ??  `??_/O??

Sunday World

It’s Christmas Eve. You’re sweating in a lingerie department or contemplating the horrifying complexity of a skincare counter. Are you a) A man, or b) A man?

OK, I’ll admit to the tiniest bit of a sexist generalisation. But everyone among us knows a male gentleman for whom Christmas comes as a surprise every year, necessitating a day-before dash for present purchasing.

If only this event happened on the same date each year, panic-buying the dregs of picked-over gifts could be avoided. I might as well be talking to myself here.

A friend who used to work in the M&S lingerie department reported without fail every Christmas Eve on desperate partners who explained ‘she’s about this big’ and had to be told the only decent stuff left was for the boyishly flat-chested or the humungous of boob.

I can envisage men complaining they’re equally the victims of thoughtless gifts, with an endless procession of novelty presents, plus socks and jocks. Guilty as charged, but when the options — in our house anyway — are a new 500m plasma TV, a set of golf clubs or new socks, guess what Santa’s bringing?

So, let’s navigate the delicate minefield of Christmas presents and what to avoid, with options mainly ‘for her’ —because we know what we hate.

The ‘anything with a plug’ rule generally applies, except when it’s been requested, or when it’s beauty related. And then aim for the best you can afford. For example, if it’s a hairdryer, make it a Dyson. Just sell a kidney first.

Gifts you want are a no. I once got treated to a rugby match for a birthday — I am not the rugby fan in our family.

Novelty gifts are a definite no. It might raise a chuckle in a shop but we’re aiming for thoughtful, not the new Billy the Bass, which will be binned in a month.

Booze is a delicate one as it implies ‘vodka for breakfast’. But if your lovely partner likes gin (huge hint) then perhaps a little artisanal bottle under the tree wouldn’t entirely offend. If it’s their only gift, avoid.

Anything fitness or diet related is quicksand at Christmas because who wants to be fat-shamed before tucking into the biggest dinner of the year? Remember the outcry over the Peloton ad in 2019 when husband gave wife the expensive kit, who then shared her journey from flab to shredded. An interest in your partner’s health is one thing but proofread for creepy first.

Anything that was free with another present runs the risk of being found out. When a friend produced a Boots gift from her mum-in-law, a freebie they were giving away like cheese samples at a deli counter, I kept schtum.

Skincare has to be really specific, because the best product in the world changes every five minutes and we have trouble keeping up. It also gives us a taste for the good stuff.

Swerve the lingerie because hot and sexy often means uncomfortable and itchy. And to be honest, most of us spend our lives in sensible pants and a good bra.

Buying the same present as last year displays a lack of imagination. A pal once received a gift from her boss which was actually the same gift she’d given him the previous year.

Worse, it was a box of sweets he’d scraped the ‘use by’ date off — and he was minted.

You have been festively warned.


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