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What the Christmas Gifts You Bought Say About You

Goodhood voucher? Personalised wine coaster? A gift says nothing about the receiver but everything about the giver.

by Hannah Ewens, and Lauren O'Neill; illustrated by Marta Parszinew
24 December 2019, 10:15am

On the 12th day of Christmas, my loved one gave to me... 12 potted house plants, eleven selection boxes, ten Prosecco bottles, nine Topshop rings, eight Disney plushies, seven Lizzo tickets [etc, etc, etc] and another generic gift in a Christmas tree. It is that time again: Christmas! A time for giving and receiving and hoping that in that exchange, you’ll get something of similar-enough quality, even though that’s not the point and you’re not being a tight arse but times are hard and joys are few.

Although it’s “the giving that counts”, that’s only true because if you give a shit present, you look like a wanker. A gift says little of the innocent receiver but everything about the giver. It reveals whether you pay attention to those you care about throughout the year, or find it easier to decide on a gift scrolling notonthehighstreet.com than just, like, knowing the person. In the spirit of that sentiment, here are what the gifts you’ve definitely bought say about you.

GOODHOOD VOUCHER

Neither you (the buyer of said voucher) nor the recipient of voucher (hypebeast you got in the work Secret Santa) can afford to buy anything in Goodhood. So, thanks very much for your £20 contribution to London town’s most overpriced mohair jumper but next time you want to show you have some flair and a taste for the trendier things in life, just buy a fucking Diptyque Mini Candle.

ENGRAVED JEWELLERY

Arrogant, sycophantic and probably in love, you are the gifter who backs their sterling silver pendant so hard you want to ensure your dearest can never refund it.

BOX OF BISCUITS

You found yourself in Marks and Spencer with a Crystal Maze-type time window, let’s be honest.

MID-RANGE DESIGNER SOCKS

Now that we are getting very old, there are few gifts we'd appreciate more than a pair of mid-range designer socks that will last a long time. This is the sort of thing we care about now, along with "decent pans" and disruptions to the recycling collection schedule. Contrary to initial appearances, the buyer of the mid-range designer socks is actually very thoughtful and more people should follow their example* instead of getting everyone more extravagant-looking but ultimately rancid-smelling bubble bath gift sets that never actually get used.

*Jack Wills Fairisle socks not included.

LYNX GIFT SET

In many ways, we admire the giver of the Lynx gift set, because the Lynx gift set doesn’t pretend to be anything it's not. It says, “Listen mate, I’m a bit skint and quite frankly I forgot that I had you in Secret Santa, actually, so I had to run into Boots and get this earlier.” The Lynx gift set can’t possibly say anything else, so hallowed is it in the annals of genuinely thoughtless Christmas presents, and in buying one for someone, you’re basically just owning that you’re shit at the whole Christmas thing – but at the same time you’re more than happy to buy someone a pint, so you’re probably quite sound.

WATERAID DONATION

You’re a class act who wanted to piss off your mum’s Brexit Party-voting ogre of a boyfriend. Well done, it worked. Only this year, he’ll use this as an excuse to spout increasingly deranged nonsense about Boris and US trade deals.

‘EXPERIENCE’ VOUCHER

You think this is a nice thing to do – ”We’ve all got too much stuff, so I’m going to send them on this beer tasting day!” – but you forgot to read the small print, so what you’ve actually done is spend £30 on a voucher for something that can only be redeemed from 10AM to 3PM Monday to Thursday and is a £36 train ride away, which the recipient will have to pay for.

PERSONALISED WINE COASTER (SEE ALSO: MASSIVE NOVELTY GIN GLASS)

“JILL’S WINE” is what it says, in that fun, handwriting-y style of font that mums like, but it’s also in capital letters, so the overall effect is that of someone shouting at you in the middle of a hairdresser’s. As a gift, the personalised coaster (along with enormous gin glass ft. the words, "HANDS OFF, IT’S GIN O’CLOCK", which have been applied via a transfer that will come off in the dishwasher and absolutely fucking destroy the plates) is a good laugh. At the same time, however, there’s no getting away from the fact that this gift screams, “Got my least favourite auntie in the family Secret Santa. What do I know about Jill? She….loves causing drama when she’s pissed??”

GREY JOGGING BOTTOMS

You’re selfish and horny.

BOOKS

i) THE YEAR’S HOTTEST ESSAY COLLECTIONS

Buying someone a copy of [insert this year’s most celebrated essay collection here] is a double-sided gift. On the one hand, it says that you understand their literary tastes and reading aspirations, and therefore comes off as a thoughtful present. On the other hand, however, you’re cursing them to at least a year of being asked whether they’ve read the book yet whenever they see you. They won’t have, and it’ll be awkward for everyone. Just get them a selection box.

ii) ‘FANGIRLS’ BY HANNAH EWENS

You may be a legend with a fine eye for a brilliant culture book: something that paints an evocative portrait of people and what they love; a book with heart, extensive research and incisive analysis. You may be one of our mums.

WHATEVER THEY TOLD YOU VIA TEXT OR EMAIL THAT THEY WANTED, WITH NO FLOURISHES

Some might call you lazy, careless or the sort of drone typically existing and gifting under late capitalism, fuelling the holiday’s demise into a soulless exchange of commodities of precisely equal value. We call you a judicious legend. You’re someone who does what they say they will, someone stoic and strong. Someone who cares about others, a true friend of ours, the very best person on this list and… a Christmas miracle.

@hannahrosewens and @hiyalauren

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family
FRIENDS
Gifts
humour