You, my dear readers, are likely to belong to one of these groups: you are either fully sorted for Christmas by now, and all your focus is on finding that perfect turkey, OR you are currently browsing online and planning to run to the closest shopping centre, as soon as the office clock hits 5pm.
Either way, there is one question that pops up every year: is it ok to give money for Christmas? Ultimately, people have their own Pinterest wish lists full of things they just don’t have cash for, so why not give them the means to treat themselves without going bankrupt, right?
Well, if you belong to the Martha Stuart fan club, you will be pleased to know that she is all up for it! In an interview with Bloomberg (the full article is here), the domestic guru claims that it’s better to give cash, if you are time poor (like a high level finance exec, who reads Bloomberg on his Blackberry) than a bad gift.
I agree with her that it’s quite cool to give kids cash gifts, as they tend not to accumulate much lunch money to buy something decent. In a way, it’s their first opportunity to experience the power of being adults and make their own financial decisions, even if it means spending all of it on chocolates and falling ill afterwards (that’s my real birthday story, but what a great lesson it was!).
Anyway, if you do end up giving some cash to your kid, please try not to give him or her suggestions on what to spend it on. Feel free to guide them and help them calculate all costs in advance to avoid disappointment, but please try to be impartial and support their choice (unless it’s really harmful).
However, please do not give cash to your wife or girlfriend. If there is something she really needs, she will come to you and tell in advance – giving her cash won’t inspire her to get that pair of shoes she’s been dreaming about for months. She wants to see those shoes under the tree, as it is more important to her that you’ve listened and wasted an hour of your time doing shopping for her (likely your least favourite activity in the world).
Here is a quick bullet point summary:
Is it ok to give money for Christmas?
Wife/ Girlfriend – No, absolutely not ok.
Mum/Dad and grandparents – Yes, but only as an add on. You need to show that you truly value them, so money alone won’t be enough. For them, the thought counts more than a price tag.
Kids and teenagers – Yes, totally fine, but don’t patronise and let them spend it however they please.
Brothers and sisters – Yes, especially if you are close (a good trick is to add a note that it’s your input into their fund for larger purchases like a car or a holiday); more distant relatives might feel offended.
Close friends – Yes, similarly to close siblings.
Colleagues – No, you share the same employer, so it’s a bit of a creepy money exchange. The only good way of doing it is donating money to their favourite charity.
Stay tuned and have a happy Christmas!