Are wish lists the true spirit of Christmas for the future?

[It is estimated] that $35 billion is being thrown away, around the world, in the form of poorly chosen Christmas gifts

BBC’s 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy – Santa Claus, December 17th 2018

For a number of years now, I’ve asked people, buying me birthday and Christmas gifts, to use my Amazon wish list and, indeed, I’ve converted a lot of them to doing the same (and you can put items on from other online retailers too – they don’t have to be Amazon purchases).

But isn’t that pretty boring as there’s no surprise? Well, in the modern, throw-away economy, struggling with our own consumerism and waste, maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all because it seems, well, we’re not very good at buying presents otherwise.

Research suggests that recipients are delighted to receive the gift they’ve already specified. Givers are deceiving themselves that an off-piste choice will be more welcome.

BBC’s 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy – Santa Claus, December 17th 2018

And this is the thing – it may not be a surprise to get me something I’ve already chosen but, because I have, you can guarantee I’ll like it.

Some of the worst gifts I’ve received have been those that weren’t from my wish list – items relegated to the back of the cupboard and then, without the gifter knowing, sent to a charity shop or simply thrown away. And I’m no better. My wife was always complaining about her phone running out of battery, so I bought her a compact power bank, resplendent in a Cath Kidston-style pattern. If ever a power-bank was made for her, it was this. But she never used it. An unexpected gift it was, but one she had no interest in.

Yes, a wish list is boring and your gifts come with no surprise as a result. But they’re needed items and never wasted.

Many of my friends and family, as they get older, talk about not exchanging gifts with their spouses any more as they each run out of ideas. But does that mean we have everything? Of course not – there’ll always be a DVD or something that we want. Wish list are great ways to record these little things that we’d like but not necessarily at that point in time. And a great way to remember things that, in the middle of summer, we think would be useful but we’d forget about by the time Christmas is upon us.

And to finish with one final quote from BBC’s 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy programme that sums it up perfectly…

Even Santa Clause likes to receive a polite wish list from children. Who are the rest of us to think we can do better?


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