Critics of the holiday giving season will often point out that the modern celebration of Christmas was created by department stores to increase sales at the end of the year. One of the most common examples of this is Macy’s Santa Claus. The portrayal of him being a “marketing gimmick” fuels holiday cynicism.
Consumers who are heavily in debt can fall prey to this negative line of thinking. That first pass with the debt paydown calculator can instill feelings of doubt and fear into even the most faithful followers of Old Saint Nick. This is particularly true this year as prices continue to rise and holiday shopping becomes more of a burden for the average consumer.
True believers in Christmas view this differently. Putting aside the religious implications for a moment, many people believe that the holidays are all about kindness and generosity. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from putting a price tag on certain things. To refrain from doing this, we suggest you avoid asking the following questions this holiday.
1. How much did it cost you?
This question has always been a holiday faux pas, yet people continue to ask it. The price tag shouldn’t matter. It’s the thought that counts. We tell ourselves that, but there’s still that nagging voice inside that wants to know how much those gift givers value our friendship or familial bond. Don’t go there. Those things don’t have a monetary value.
2. Where did you buy this?
Asking this question should be followed up with “in case I want to return it.” That is why you asked in the first place, right? You don’t really need them to tell you. There’s this invention called the internet where you can see where that item is sold. Take it to one of those locations and have them scan the barcode. If they didn’t sell it, they might be able to tell you who did.
3. Can you guess how much I paid for this?
Talk about pomposity and a need for self-gratification. Why would you ask someone who’s receiving a gift from you to guess how much you paid for it? It shouldn’t matter. Buy your gifts based on niceness and need, not because they’re more expensive than what everyone else got them. Being materialistic takes away from the spirit of the holiday.
4. Did you pay for a warranty?
Follow this question with “because it’s cheap and I think I’m going to break it.” That’s what the giver is going to hear if you make this inquiry. It’s important to look at the motive behind the question before you ask it. Warranties come in handy when the item breaks or needs maintenance. Instructions on how to use them are probably in the box somewhere.
5. Did you get this on sale?
I certainly hope you didn’t pay full price for this. Imagine saying that to someone who just gave you a gift they spent their hard-earned money on. That’s basically what you’re conveying to them if you ask if they bought it on sale. At least, that’s what they might hear. Remember, people are fragile, and feelings get hurt very easily during the holiday season.
6. Didn’t they just release a new version?
If you read the first five questions, you can probably follow our line of reasoning here. Asking if your gift is the latest version of whatever it is will insult your giver. Try being grateful that they’re giving you anything at all. It’s not an obligation for people to give gifts, no matter what their relationship to you is. Lots of folks can’t afford to give anything this year.
7. Will this go on sale after the holidays?
Clever consumers will phrase this more as a statement than a question. The result is still the same. Confirming that there will be an after-holiday sale is a clear intention to return the gift for full price now and buy it again for less in January. If that’s your plan, keep it to yourself. Friends and family members will never look at you the same again if they know you do this.
The Bottom Line: Don’t Insult the Giver
Some of you may have already noticed that our social skills have deteriorated in the past few years. Isolation during a global pandemic will do that to you. This holiday season may be the first time in a while that large groups of people have gotten together to celebrate. It’s a good time to review the etiquette of gift-giving and receiving.
Don’t insult the gift giver. The best way to do that is to put aside all expectations and just be grateful that they’ve thought about you. That’s what the holiday gift-giving season is all about. Prices don’t matter, warranties and return policies shouldn’t be part of the conversation, and the new version probably isn’t any better than the old one. Be grateful. Happy holidays.