The cost of all the X’mas gifts I received can definitely be put to better use

To all my friends, I love you guys and the thought behind the presents. <3

Tsiuwen Yeo |Sponsored | December 14, 2018 @ 08:58 am

It’s Christmas again, and there are generally two types of people: those good with gifts, and those who are not so good. My gut feeling says there are more people who are the latter.

But I believe people like to receive gifts. That said, I also believe about 67.85% (don’t quote me) of the gift-receiving population don’t know what to feel about the presents they’ve gotten.

Dislike is a strong word. Exchanges are conditional, but most of us (especially me) don’t know what to do with at least one Christmas present every year. What then? It stays in a corner somewhere until spring cleaning 10 years later.

My Christmas participation started only in the past four years, peaking at the consumerist-because-FOMO-with-friends level.

But for awhile now, I’ve been wondering if buying Christmas presents because of the obligatory “I need to, there’s an office party!” is actually just money gone to waste.

Because do I really put the gifts to use? So I decided to dig out Christmas presents (those still around and that I remember) received over the years and attempted to tally the cost.

All prices are based on similar items I could find online.

This is a beautifully packaged Christmas present I received two years ago. You can still see how beautifully packaged it is. It’s in mint condition.

Why? Because I really don’t know what to do with travel-sized toiletries. When it’s this handy and smells good, it feels like a waste to use them unless absolutely necessary. Like when I’m travelling. But I’m still working through the ones I got before this.

Is the solution to travel more?

Price: ~$18

Secret Santa was probably invented by people who wanted to be better at getting gifts. But what if you asked for something unattainable? A wild guess like this. A ridiculously cute bag in an adorable colour.

Which I don’t use enough because I carry with me, everywhere I go, two purses and a wallet that hardly fit in here.

It’s not you, bag. It’s me. You cute.

Price: ~$30

Synonymous with Christmas is the season of cute little bath and lotion products. How did we let toiletries take over like this?

Again, cute. Smells wonderful. But eczema hates my hands smelling like a garden.

It’s too pretty to be given away so I’ll just continue to keep it in my drawer.

Price: ~$16

Presenting: what is referred to as “stocking filler” in serious, winter Christmas-celebrating countries.

Slightly more agreeable with eczema.

Great conversation starter in an air-conditioned room filled with dry hands.

Price: ~$16

I had to rack my brains to recall the other Christmas gifts, but I immediately remembered this. For obvious reasons. It’s a gorgeous vase which, at present, is sitting behind the TV console.

Objectively, it’s stunning. But I don’t know how to use it. I don’t buy flowers. I’m clumsy. The vase is so nice it makes my room look crappy.

If I want to use this, I have to move to a new place. One day I will, but not now.

Price: ~$50

I asked specifically for this book, but didn’t read it until six months later. Because I already had a couple of books to read but needed to give my Secret Santa something to get me.

I didn’t need you but grew to love you.

Price: ~$25


Total cost of all the Christmas presents I remember receiving:


To me, this is a tremendous amount, given that

  1. I only celebrate Christmas with a few friends
  2. I only started doing Christmas gifts about four years ago
  3. I receive one to two presents each Christmas.

Imagine all the serious Christmas celebrators who will receive numerous gifts this year — how much money goes to waste because of ungrateful people like me who don’t know what to do with presents, and are not in need of anything?

That amount would help assist teenage mothers from low income families, purchase formula milk and diapers for their newborn babies or fulfil the wishes of cancer patients.

We’re spending it on tiny bottles of toiletries that smell nice and other miscellaneous stuff with cute packaging — but it’s a waste on people like me, who don’t know what to do with it.

Do we give stuff just for the sake of gifting?

Presents can be thoughtful, but sometimes, the sincerity behind the gift is better than the gift itself.

If you’re like me, you can consider getting your friends to donate on your behalf instead. It’ll be meaningful and really help someone. If you don’t donate often, this is a good way to start.

And maybe, just maybe, you can persuade your friends to let you do the same for them. Then we can take down the consumerist culture make the season of giving truly meaningful and effective again.

If you don’t know how or where to start gifting meaningfully, visit Giving.sg’s curated page to giftstart your Season of Giving.

This sponsored post by Giving.sg, a one-stop portal for all givers powered by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, made the writer wonder how much money she’s wasted on gifts.

All images by Tsiuwen Yeo

Top image by m01229 on Flickr

About Tsiuwen Yeo

Tsiuwen frequently thinks about what to eat for dinner as she's having lunch.

Morning Commute

Interesting stories to discuss with your colleagues in office later