Oxfam Unwrapped - yeah yeah but it's still a joyless slap in the face to actually receive one, isn't it?

(97 Posts)
OhGiveUsAPruniPudding Fri 28-Dec-07 15:29:35

A couple in DH's family this year decided to give Oxfam Unwrapped to everyone: apparently "Because we have so much stuff" hmm . Well I would happily have lightened their present load by one if I had known they weren't giving presents and didn't want stuff. They are not popular in the family for a myriad reasons, and they know it, so it felt like quite a point being made to all of us.
There have to be ground rules for this, don't there, for it to be done with any grace? I don't want anything from them really, it's not about the stuff; but then, nor do I want to give them anything, so I am happy to agree that we do this (or, do nothing at all).
I think the number one thing about it is that people know they are getting it so can temper their gift-giving as they wish - these are people I dislike and would have been glad of the chance not to give their gift any thought.
Is that me being a bitter old cow, or do you agree?
(I have to admit, I was tempted to send them an Oxfam bag of shit, just to make the point in return. [juvenile])

NAB3wishesfor2008 Fri 28-Dec-07 15:30:58

What did you get was your unwrapped gift?

Iota Fri 28-Dec-07 15:33:47

oh well at least you know what to do for Christmas 2008 smile

expatinscotland Fri 28-Dec-07 15:34:43

I would be tempted to send them an Oxfam bag of shit, but am too big of a chicken shit to actually do it .

hatrick Fri 28-Dec-07 15:35:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NKF Fri 28-Dec-07 15:37:06

What;s Oxfam unwrapped?

OhGiveUsAPruniPudding Fri 28-Dec-07 15:37:42

lol iota
Yes they have set the bar now, haven't they?
I got school dinners, i think, nab. But I would rather have made a donation to a charity of my choice. I am really being churlish now. I am glad those children are going to get fed etc but it's more the family politics of it. I have given Unwrapped gifts before but either for someone who had said he didn't want anything, or requested.
Also...Unwrapped gifts come with something, don't they...a bag of chocolate mango or a wee toy?
I think they kept those!

southeastastra Fri 28-Dec-07 15:39:03
hippipotTEDCHRISTMASTREEami Fri 28-Dec-07 15:39:13

I think the issue is you dislike them as people, not the fact they bought Oxfam unwrapped gifts.

I for one love to receive Oxfam unwrapped gifts, it saves me finding a home in our already cramped house for more soaps, candles, books, board games or dvd's. Let's face it, people could not buy you a gift at all and keep the money themselves, or not buy you a gift and spend the money in your name on charity. I know which I prefer wink

Iota Fri 28-Dec-07 15:39:53

I think you should see if you really can send a bag of fertilizer for next year

hippipotTEDCHRISTMASTREEami Fri 28-Dec-07 15:40:43

Oxfam unwrapped gifts come with a card and fridge magnet. Please don't tell me they kept that themselves?
No toys or mangoes though!

expatinscotland Fri 28-Dec-07 15:42:17

Being the selfish git I am, I prefer they spend it on themselves .

Iota Fri 28-Dec-07 15:42:32

not quite fertilizer but sends a message grin

LuckyStarOfBethSalem Fri 28-Dec-07 15:45:40

Me & DP and all his family got a "unwrapped" present last year (not oxfam) and it was dissapointing but the reason I was dissapointed was because I didn't agree with where it was being spent. I'd have rather she'd have spent it on kids in THIS country. I like the idea of the presents but wish you could choose where the money went to.

OhGiveUsAPruniPudding Fri 28-Dec-07 15:46:31

No the issue is that I dislike them, and they did this unilaterally, when if both sides had been given a chance, it could have been a well-meant and gracious thing to do - but ended up looking like a 'fuck you' gesture.

THey left with two large bags of presents: the people who said "We did this because we had too much stuff." How odd, then, to not inform people that you didn't want any more.

I am a fan of the Oxfam gifts - I just think the etiquette of it is a minefield! And bears no relation to the actual charity aspect of it.

Thinking of what to give someone, you know, getting them the right thing, something you know they will like or at least hope so - it means a lot over and above the value of the present.

Logging on to a website and randomly choosing a fridge magnet...very easy, devoid of consideration, often.

hippipotTEDCHRISTMASTREEami Fri 28-Dec-07 15:48:58

Yes, I do see where you are coming from. If they had approached you (and the rest of the family) and said 'no presents this year please, let's give to charity instead, then you are right, it would have been a nice gesture. But to walk away with two full bags of presents yourself does take the mick a bit, you are right.

Go on then, you may be annoyed, I would be too grin

OhGiveUsAPruniPudding Fri 28-Dec-07 15:51:28

<mops brow in relief>
Glad you agree
'Taking the mick' is one of the phrases that was used when they had gone.
Good lord I do dislike them so very much, I may have to go and lie down.

roisin Fri 28-Dec-07 15:52:16

I got several Oxfam and similar gifts, and love them. Much better than token chocolates/smellies, or books I don't want to but feel obliged to read, from other rellies.

I just wholeheartedly approve of the sentiment: "We do love you, we want to spend some money on/for/in honour of you. But we know you don't want stuff so we bought something worthwhile instead."

As a family this year we got bees, ducks, water-purification system, something-about-women-can't-remember-exactly-what, and a couple of others too.

LuckyStarOfBethSalem Fri 28-Dec-07 15:52:51

I get it too, We were a little bruised when we knew we'd spent a fair amount of money on DP's mum only to get a little card (which I must say has spent the last year sitting in a box not doing much)

irishyouamerrychristmas Fri 28-Dec-07 15:54:19

It only works, imo, if you specifically ask for it to be given to you instead of a present - you cannot unilaterally give it to someone. It's not, most definitely not, ok to just give it as a present to someone if (a) you haven't been asked to or (at the very very least) (b) told them well in advance that that's what you're doing (and even then it's a bit of a "God aren't we so good we're giving your present to charity" sickening gesture). Bloody minefield. But nonetheless better than my MIL who, apparently, when we asked her not to spend too on us for Christmas, said that she hadn't bought us anything. Or for DH's birthday today. Grrr. She's arriving in 10 minutes and it feels like that bit in thriller films where it's all calm just before the monster arrives at the house and begins breaking down the door with a bloody axe.

KIMIfullofhopefor2008 Fri 28-Dec-07 15:54:49

They make great gifts for teachers, saves them being over run with wine, chocolate and soap.

DP got a goat one from his mum a few years ago, and when I told my mum she was confused and ask where he was going to keep a goat. I had to explain that the goat itself went to a family in Africa. hmm

OhGiveUsAPruniPudding Fri 28-Dec-07 16:00:30

I am not a fan of stuff so it should have been ok.
But the simple fact is, when you are having people round for a gorgeous meal that you have worked hard to provide, and you have bought them a present you really thought about - it is off for them to hand these out.
It was like one side of the family were making things as happy and celebratory as possible whilst they were suffering the food and wine and just not joining in with the spirit of it.
I mean, that is their business, to a degree, but it's notable that they had been complaining two weeks previously that nobody was interested in them.

hedgehog1979 Fri 28-Dec-07 16:01:36

I have done this for my family this year but have also bought something small for them to open on NYD (we spent christmas with the inlaws) but I have warned them that this is what I am doing and not to spend too much on us as a result

Swedes2Turnips1 Fri 28-Dec-07 16:02:25

I don't like the etiquette of these charity gifts either - I think it is a bit cheeky to give your gift to African children who need feeding then accept your gifts to them.

I would like to see one of the political parties place a ban on these gifts in their manifesto. So the gift could only be made if the recipient has registered their consent with that charity. In the same manifesto I would like to see a £5 per head maximum spend per person unless they are your children.

When my marriage broke up several years ago I cooked him Christmas lunch at my house - so we could both spend christmas with the children - and I gave him a shirt beutifully wrapped. He bought me a charity camel. Me pretending to be delighted was worthy of an Oscar nomination at the very least. I felt insulted and then spoilt and uncharitable for feeling so insulted. A double whammy.

Charity gift is an oxymoron.

holidaywonk Fri 28-Dec-07 16:13:26

I agree with Irish's summary of the etiquette. We have received these from the very generous Texan branch of DP's family, but we got them alongside 'proper' gifts for the kids (no-one was buying for adults that year).

I do think it can be a rather smug, annoying gesture in the wrong hands - 'Look at me! Look how much I care about those in poverty!' I prefer people who give regular donations to charity according to their means, and don't brag about it.

WanderingHolly Fri 28-Dec-07 16:35:54

Agree with irish.

Very bad form to hand out Oxfam Unwrapped gifts unless the recipient has specifically asked for one. If you want to give to charity, do so. But please take the funds from your beer budget, not your gift giving budget.

I think Oxfam Unwrapped is great, I really do. But it is a bit like saying, "I didn't buy you a birthday present, I gave the money to save the wittle fwuffly penguins instead."

Fuck the fwuffly penguins I want sparkly presents!


For the record, I would only give an Oxfam Unwrapped present if the recipient had asked for it, as I would with a Same Difference cd. You wouldn't want one of those without warning either.

yajorome Fri 28-Dec-07 16:54:20

Ooh, I was just trying to remember how we stopped giving gifts with my in-laws and realised that it was the opposite of this! We asked for charity gifts to x,y or z one year instead of doing their standard Christmas list which had entries like: pink cardigan size 8 from Brora, item number 1233455 on page 57 of the November catalogue. I kid you not! We still bought people presents as normal but for some reason the next year lists were discarded and everyone decided just to buy small gifts for the kids.

Hee hee. I had a rough time when I was first with dh with the concept of lists and the fact that people returned gifts chosen for them! Not sure I care so much anymore smile

JoyeuxNoelBiggy Fri 28-Dec-07 16:57:31

There are some in my family who persist in buying duff presents. Of course we are obliged to buy for them too. We don't know or like each other enough to spend a decent amount, or buy anything thoughtful. Gifts from them are usually what was on offer in Tesco the week before (maybe a packet of brown envelopes, or a single plastic box). While all suggestions that we give it a rest are rebuffed, receiving a fridge magnet while their attentions are focussed on the needy elsewhere would be quite a relief.

Hulababy Fri 28-Dec-07 16:57:56

Agree with those saying that you should only send these out as (a) the Christmas card to accompany a present, (b) when you don't normally send them a present at all or (c) if they have requested one.

TBH I only use them as (a) - for people like teachers/work.

I don't need these as gifts from other people. I do my own charity donations and don't need someone else to do them on my behalf. If you wish to give to charity - do it for yourself, not under the guise as a gift. (Doing it as a way of giving a card is fine I think though)

I am happy to be shallow when it comes to presents. I persoanlly prefer a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, or even some smellies for my own gift.

NomDePlume Fri 28-Dec-07 18:02:51

Pruni, I bought an Oxfam Unwrapped gift for DD's teaching team this year (teacher training in Africa). They don't come with any extras like chocs etc. I sencerely hope that DD's teachers didn't think I was being a c*nt for buying it

NomDePlume Fri 28-Dec-07 18:03:10

sincerely hmm

Hekate Fri 28-Dec-07 18:10:10

What you do now is get together with every member of the family that got one of these and agree that this couple will get oxfam unwrapped gifts from you all for their birthdays, anniversary and for christmas from now on.

lilolilbethlehem Fri 28-Dec-07 18:10:35

Whenever I buy Oxfam Unwrapped presents, I actually end up spending quite a lot more than I would have done otherwise, tho will admit i sometimes add in a box of chocs or something. You do pay (quite a lot) extra for the additional gifts, so your family haven't just kept the additional gifts. Luckily, the people I buy for "get it" and appreciate the sentiment.

NorthernLurkerwithastarontop Fri 28-Dec-07 18:12:21

dd1's teachers (job-share) bought the whole class a goat this year - which I thought was very cool and they all thought was rather brill too - better than 30 bags of chocolate coins or Harry Potter pencils. But if I was given one unexpectedly - I would be vexed - more so if I had to watch a lovingly chosen and wrapped gift disappearing off into the blue yonder well I digest the information that somewhere in Africa there's a goat without my name on it!

lilolilbethlehem Fri 28-Dec-07 18:15:07

I suppose Oxfam unwrapped etc gifts are no different than any other: you should buy what you think the recipient will appreciate. For those who appreciate charity gifts, these go down really well. If people find it offensive not to receive a gift they can use personally, then i guess the buyer has made the wrong choice for that person.

MummyDoItUnderTheMistletoe Fri 28-Dec-07 18:21:07

I think this type of charity giving is entirely the wrong way round. People should ask to receive it, not decide to give it. The couple in the OP may have 'too much stuff' so they should have asked to be given Oxfam Unwrapped - how does giving it to other people reduce the amount of 'stuff' that they receive? Personally, I wouldn't do it. If I feel strongly enough about a charity, I will (and do) support it myself. It has nothing to do with Christmas when I want to treat the people I love to something I think will give them pleasure.

PeachyHasAFiggyPudInTheOven Fri 28-Dec-07 18:21:55

It would make me smile but everyone asumes I don't want one of these gifts

but I do

tried to nomnate a specific charity once, was ignored

used yto work in the charity sector- you think they'd catch on!

PeachyHasAFiggyPudInTheOven Fri 28-Dec-07 18:24:58

(I did give my MIL a pile of dung last eyar. It was deserved and mroe than I received in eturn LOL)

Do give them to teachers, normally add chocs or as a supplemntary- eg head was retiring, we can't stick her but we gave her the standard Chrostmas gift- scented candle this year- and a Christian Aid gift as well.

pinetreedog Fri 28-Dec-07 18:28:51

"A couple in DH's family this year decided to give Oxfam Unwrapped to everyone: apparently "Because we have so much stuff""

Fuck me. Are you related to my sister? However, she told me at great length via email that they weren't giving anything. I didn't see any improvement in that method.

pinetreedog Fri 28-Dec-07 18:30:06

Frankly, I would rather deal with my own charitable giving.

pinetreedog Fri 28-Dec-07 18:31:59

There is no place for presents in our society. Outmoded custom struggling to survive.

TheGoatofChristmasPast Fri 28-Dec-07 18:34:48

my family do this but we agreed to stop buying each other pointless piles of shite, so we buy our parents something (thank you for dinner etc) and obviously the kids get something. i think if it is not an agreed thing it can appear sanctimonious. you should have taken the present you bought them back and told them you would donate to a charity for the 'unrelentingly smug and hateful'.

Blandmum Fri 28-Dec-07 18:48:22

I was given one a little while ago and I was quite chuffed.

But then sil and I know each other very well and agree on lots of stuff, choice of charities being one of them.

Like all gifts, you have to know the recipient, I think.

PontipineFinderGeneral Fri 28-Dec-07 18:59:42

There is a big difference between an Oxfam Unwrapped gift which is a genuine charitable gesture, and an Oxfam Unwrapped gift which is used to make a 'statement.'

Can you contact them and ask if you can have your gifts back, so that you can return them to the shops and give the money to charity?

PontipineFinderGeneral Fri 28-Dec-07 19:03:23

Apologies, I have just used my husband's mumsnet name by mistake, this should have read as a message from justabout. My husband's views on Oxfam Unwrapped are entirely his own and I do not presume to speak for him (well, not about this) grin

onebatmotherofgoditschilly Fri 28-Dec-07 21:29:25

But why? Why is everyone pissed off at not getting a crappy £10 gift, but instead giving someone else something they really need?

(Can I at this point confirm that I AM NOT a weaver of my own mooncup?)

I don't think we should be any spending money on any grownup who isn't totally brilliant at Christmas. Best friends, someone who's really helped you out etc etc.

I quite badly don't want a Boots Aromatherapy Candle Luxury Gift. Also, don't want to (therefore don't) spend money on same for other people.

At the mo am broke so spend all those £10s (which add up to about £100) on living.

When things improve (in approx 2032) I'll up my charity dd's to 2000 spacegilders or whatever it'll be by then.

And Pruni, surely, if they're utterly loathsome (which sounds likely), you have an even better reason not to buy shite for them?

sfxmum Fri 28-Dec-07 21:32:21

we have received and have given a few since it started, no problem with it hope it really works

sorry only read op but i did send one to dc4 nursery school when he left and would be more than happy to recieve one! horses for courses

onebat, you are funny grin

I also sincerely do not want a Boots aromatherapy candle whatnot. Candles are the new Body Shop basket.

mamhaf Fri 28-Dec-07 21:42:15

We received a goat and two penguins...and were thrilled.

But, unknown to the gift-giver, I'd already had a conversation with dh about how I'd rather not have any more 'stuff' in the wrong size/colour/style and would prefer a donation to charity.

The penguins for dcs were quite sweet - the cards also came with a knitting pattern to knit a jacket for penguins rescued from oil slicks/melting ice.

The gift-giver also presented us with a few small token presents too - so best of all worlds, and she 'read' us very well.

But when dcs were small, we suggested to some friends that we donate to charity instead - and it went down like a lead balloon - clearly doesn't suit everyone.

littlelapin Fri 28-Dec-07 21:49:37

I was quite happy with our goat

mazzystar Fri 28-Dec-07 22:03:14

This thread makes me lol

I got a text from a friend - know for donkey's years - in November some time saying "we have decided that we are not buying presents this year but making donation to xyz". Was I right to assume therefore that they didn't want us to buy anything for them ? [cos I didn't]

It really irritated me, not because I particularly wanted to exchange gifts with them - in fact I thought it a bit presumptive to send me the text in the first place - but because I bet they will be spending hundreds on their kids. As another poster has said, I make my own charitable donations - if they want to make an extra charitable donation at Christmas time, that's great, but don't bring me into it, and why feel the need to draw my attention to it. It just all seemed like pomposity and hypocrisy to me.

well that's that off my chest.....[sorry everybody]

jajas Fri 28-Dec-07 22:06:55

I was given a 'bit of a classroom' this year and was genuinely delighted with it. I've given trees, books, water etc in the past, but chose the recipients very carefully as I have a few friends who would certainly not be best pleased with a smelly old goat as a present. I do always give something else as well though so that they don't feel cheated in any way. My friend and I are very fond of horses and we bought a 'vet for the day' for the Brooke Hospital in Egypt and it really did give us a good feeling but we had agreed from the outset to do so.

onebatmotherofgoditschilly Fri 28-Dec-07 22:23:32

oh for goodness sake the point is that EVERYONE knows that presents for grownups are ALWAYS CRAP! Therefore, much better to spend it (if you have to anyway) on something a bit less crap!

Buy for kids. Try not to buy for grownups.

Set up dds for charity throughout the year. Then, like me, you can have a revoltingly smug hard heart when it comes to Auntie Joan and why we're not going to buy her five quids worth of FUCKING SOAP!

fishie Fri 28-Dec-07 22:38:13

bad form to give these gifts unsolicited.

i'd rather a nice honest donation to charity not a load of nitwittery with goats.

bahKewcHumbug Fri 28-Dec-07 22:40:37

If anyone said they were buying me a goat I would tell them the name of a much loved charity I would like the money to go to.

If you dont want to give presents, don't give them. Donate as much as you like to chairty in your own name not by proxy.

I don't have that much spare cash and my presents were warmly and gratefully recieved - a new kitchen floor, annual pass to Kew Gardens and a Freeview Plus box. Maybe uncharitable but it made me happy, I have donated myself in the past when I was better off and no doubt will again in the future.

bahKewcHumbug Fri 28-Dec-07 22:42:52

but then I don't send random £10's on a variety of adults only very close family and friends.

onebatmotherofgoditschilly Fri 28-Dec-07 22:49:33

precisely Kew!
Bloody well done btw. I would sooo badly like to be the friend/relly who got new kitchen floor! Brill idea.

Blu Fri 28-Dec-07 23:54:24

The etiquette should be that people ask that gift money goes to charity, not that poeple choose to give to a charity and exepct someone else to be gratful! I thought Oxfam's marketing of Unwrapped has been back to front in that respect.

PrismManchip Sat 29-Dec-07 00:05:39

You know what, though - I would be pleased with it from someone I liked/loved/knew was genuine.
(I am Pruni btw)
What fucks me off is that five people went to some effort to get them things they would like, and they said "We have too much stuff so we are giving you this" - all they had to do was say "look, this is all too commercial, we want to get these gifts this year" and we could all have nodded sagely and then done our own thing, no rancour, in fact a great deal of going-up-in-estimation. Instead we gave people we dislike gifts because social rules dictate that we have to and they flouted the social rules.
Coming from these people, the whole thing was crass and maybe a bit of a power trip for them. ANd since they were whinging that they don't get included often enough in family stuff it is odd that they did something that makes it harder to be around them.
But fuck 'em

Swedes2Turnips1 Sat 29-Dec-07 00:06:35

Blu - So beautifully put. smile

Twinklemegan Sat 29-Dec-07 00:21:38

What do people think about other types of charity gifts - animal adoption for example. Last year I did this for both my parents, but they were from UK animal sanctuaries where they could go and see the animals concerned. I'm now thinking maybe I was being joyless and sanctimonious?

I for one think my example is a bit different from the Oxfam thing. For one thing, I thought about what animals my parents might like to contribute to and chose carefully. So I guess an Oxfam gift is great for someone who is known to support that particular cause. If not, then it shows a lack of care and thought, which is surely what all present giving should be about - IMHO.

PrismManchip Sat 29-Dec-07 08:54:32

But TM you chose something you thought your parents would like: to my mind that's different from going online and buying presents for twenty people from one website and not telling them you're doing it and then saying you did it because we all accumulate so much stuff that it's getting silly, whilst groaning under the weight of people's well-meant and not well-meant presents!

SevenSwansASlouching Sat 29-Dec-07 09:03:45

Well, I bought my dad a goat - unsolicited - and he was very pleased. He spends his life ranting "Whatever you do, dopn't get me stuff, books are fine but not stuff..".He struggles hugely with Xmas and has done since my mum died 9 years ago. It came with a photo calender of my kids - which he was also pleased with. And a reference to a family joke about goats - which made him roar.

It was a good present. The difference here is that I knew the recipient would be pleased with it and it was not an easy option. This, to me, is the important thing about goats etc.

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 09:18:37

I think it's 'bad form' to request any sort of gift at all.

Why not just be gracious and thank people who have either given you something or given money to charity in your name?

I can't for the life of me imagine a scenario where I would 'warn' people in advance that I would like them to give me an Oxfam Unwrapped/whichever charity. I don't assume they are going to give me anything in the first place.

What next - sending back the charity Christmas cards you have been sent and requesting that the 49p be spent on a charity of your choosing?

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 09:21:45

And another thing - when you're sitting in a warm house with a fridge full of food it's hugely crap of you to moan about someone you don't know getting a goat.

It's not the etiquette we should be worrying about here, really is it?

Slouchy Sat 29-Dec-07 09:22:13

Sobernow - I agree.

AbbeyA Sat 29-Dec-07 09:34:06

Actually I would like to get an Oxfam unwrapped gift. I sent one last year but must admit that it was to people that I knew would be pleased (I planted some trees for them). I wouldn't give it to a teacher for a Christmas/end of year present,I think they deserve a bit of pampering.It is a bit of a tricky one, perhaps people should be sounded out first.

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 09:39:55

I must live on another planet. Do people really sound each other out and negotiate what someone else might be giving them? Do you really spend time saying 'oh no don't give me a goat, I'd rather have a quarter of a lifejacket' (or whatever) I seem to be alone in thinking it is rude to expect a gift and then have the temerity to haggle over it in advance.

discoverlife Sat 29-Dec-07 09:49:20

All presents to adults have to be thought out whether boxes of choc's or Charity Gifts. Personally I have never given soap as every time I am given it, it makes me think the giver is telling me I smell! and I dont want people to believe that is why I'm giving it to them. I have only given boxes of chocs the year DH was made redundant.
We have family lists that are sometimes adhered to, (I had wellies and compost bins of mine), but we have all received other carefully thought out pressies.
It sounds like the OP's pressy givers were looking for a cop out. An easy gift (as is said previously, just 2 clicks) to make them feel all righteous.
Other people other situations, this one I am wholeheartedly behind the OP.

Blandmum Sat 29-Dec-07 09:50:15

Buying one of these things is like buying any gift. I assume that you know the people you are buying for, and get them something that you think they will like.

I would never by my SIL a sequin bedecked item of clothing, because she isn't that type of person.

She would never buy me a ticket to a Take that Concert smile.

She knew that I'd like the free school meals option, but would be so chuffed with a part share in an anaconda (or whatever)

Frizbe Sat 29-Dec-07 09:52:49

Yep we do anyway sobernow! although I usually tell everyone not to buy for dh or I, just get things for the kids....but for somereason people seem to have brought us a lot of tins of biscuits too this year??? will no doubt make my gym membership more worthwhile grin
As for the original post, I think if you ask people to get you oxfam unwrapped gifts, no problem! but it is nice to be asked first eh?

LadyMuck Sat 29-Dec-07 09:56:06

I think it is the fact that the couple in the OP have simply done this for everyone - essentially they haven't indicated that they have thought about the potential recipients at all. It isn't therefore a thoughtful gift (and of course we've all been taught that "it's the thought that counts"), and so of course comes across as a bit of a slap. It is different from an occasion where someone takes the time to consider what gift might be appropriate and then opts for a charity gift, knowing that it probably will be appreciated by the recipient.

In one sense it would be the same as if they gave a copy of an idenitical picture or CD to everyone in the family without considering their individual taste.

PrismManchip Sat 29-Dec-07 09:59:26

I heartily disagree sobernow but I knew someone would mention the actual charity point sooner or later.
The charity aspect is a given.
I think it is extremely bad form not to tell your close family (there were extremely thoughtful, generous and giving parents and step-parents involved here) that you are not doing the whole present thing at Christmas. Because Christmas is not about stuff, it's getting together with your family and having a bit of a happy time and spreading a bit of joy. A randomly chosen bit of charity does not do that, unless you want it. Tat doesn't do it either but a thoughtfully chosen gift is I think a lovely thing wel over and above its cash value.
As I said before, had we known, there could have been a level playing field. And had there not been an already difficult relationship, there wouldn't have been a problem.
I do not want their stuff - any of it - I want people to think instead of going 'click click they can't say anything against this, let's go and buy a £35000 car." hmm

WanderingHolly Sat 29-Dec-07 09:59:57

I think if you always exchange gifts with someone, it's fine to mention that this year, if the giver is happy to do so, you would like them to buy you an Oxfam Unwrapped goat. But some people prefer to give a present to you, so it's important to allow for that too.

I think Oxfam Unwrapped is the answer to wedding list angst. No one wants 47 toasters. Many people getting married have lived together long enough to have at least two of everything. What better way to celebrate your union than providing a small village in Africa with a new sewer?!

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 10:08:44

Must be me then. My parents are dead and my FIL doesn't do Christmas so I don't expect anything from anyone. The friends I exchange gifts with every year have varying financial circumstances, as has my SIL so I would never dream of discussing a present in advance in case they weren't planning on buying one - the most I do is ask what people's children are into that year.

But tbh I still think it's tasteless to moan about presents you have been given, and even more so when they are from the 'wrong' charity.

pinetreedog Sat 29-Dec-07 11:32:29

We really should do away with all presents to adults. It's the worst idea ever and probably only came into existence in the last 30 to 40 years.

We don't need anything. We don't like what others choose for us.

All this charity presents business is just a stop-gap measure until we finally all stop giving adults preents.

AbbeyA Sat 29-Dec-07 12:16:38

Sobernow, I said it would be wise to sound people out because the OP was from someone upset that they had been given an Oxfam present, there is no point giving that person something that gives them offence. Perhaps sounded out was the wrong term-more getting the present to suit the receiver e.g. no point in getting a bottle of wine for someone who doesn't drink. I don't need a present so would be quite happy to have a goat bought in my name. As a family we have cut out a lot of present buying anyway.

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 12:31:48

Sorry for grumpy post earlier! I still think it's naff to negotiate gifts in advance, though. I know we're adults and all that but I can't imagine having a this-for-that conversation with anyone I wanted to give a present to. And I do think it's tasteless to be offended at getting a charity gift instead of one which matches your own in terms of expense/thought.

SpawnChorus Sat 29-Dec-07 12:34:33

pinetreedog - I totally agree!!

Next year my family are going to do a secret santa which I think will be a good happy medium.

AbbeyA Sat 29-Dec-07 13:35:22

I also think it is naff to negotiate gifts in advance. It is about the joy of giving, if someone wants give a goat in my name I can't see how it is a joyless slap in the face!

PrismManchip Sat 29-Dec-07 13:55:33

I didn't say I was upset about it being an Oxfam gift - I was upset about it being sprung on a roomful of people only as gifts were being exchanged - actually all those people would have perfectly joyfully agreed no presents for adults, or would have joined in and got an Oxfam gift, with no rancour whatsoever.

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 18:10:18

So you were offended. You clearly don't think it matched your gift to them otherwise you wouldn't be saying that their gift was 'sprung on' you.

Why should they say in advance that they were giving something in your name unless you wanted the chance to spend exactly the same amount on a charitable gift in theirs?

That is the point I'm making - to be upset that 'unequal' gifts were given is childish imo.

bahKewcHumbug Sat 29-Dec-07 20:10:51

I don't agree Sobernow. I think buying people charity gifts, not telling them but letting them buy non-charity presents for you is childish.

I gave and received presents wildly varying in value (the kitchen floor was from my lovely mum btw!) no-one was upset about "unequal" presents. I love buying presents for people and put a great deal of thought into what I buy - I would have been well pissed off if one of my siblings had instead decided to donate to charity on my behalf.

I know some of you don;t agree but exchanign presents at or close to Chrostmas is a long held tradition - it isn;t about the value but the thought. If you really think the person would enjoy it then fine but if you are trying to make some kind of point then I think its petty.

Milliways Sat 29-Dec-07 20:17:00

We don't buy presents for our brothers & sisters - only their kids, so it was a lovely surprise to see that our Card from B & SIL was in fact a water purification system as well!

The children liked the idea - but probably wouldn't have been so keen if that was all THEY got!

Sobernow Sat 29-Dec-07 20:21:24

One friend sent us an Oxfam Unwrapped 'gift' of a radio and gave the dds a goat between them. They were happy even when thought all they'd been given was a fridge magnet......perhaps I have crushed their hopes too early in life.

bahKewcHumbug Sat 29-Dec-07 20:27:50

I just don't see the point of it unless the person you are giving it to has a particular interest in the charity you're donating to. If you don't think people should get presents then don't give them presents. Give your money to charity as you please throughout the year and they can do the same if they want to.

Is it ever not appropriate to give a charity gift as a present? 18th Birthday, wedding golden wedding anniversary?

onebatmotherofgoditschilly Sat 29-Dec-07 20:54:42

Oh what a fab idea!

Next freakin' American-import Bridezilla 'bridal shower' I get invited to, I'm SO definitely giving a donation to battered wives on her behalf!

Age Concern for a Golden Wedding? What do we think?

CharlieAndLolasMummy Sat 29-Dec-07 21:06:37

yeah whats really odd here is the whole idea of giving oxfam gifts to other people. I think it makes a lot of sense to ask for them yourself. But buying someone ELSE an oxfam gift is bascially saying, not "oh I have too much stuff and don't need any more" but "YOU have, IMO, too much stuff, and I don't think you need anything more. In fact you should be grateful for what you have. And thus, I have given the money I would have spent on your christmas gift to someone more deserving.".

I am all for oxfam gifts, and there are several people in my family for whom I do buy them, because they have specifically requested them. I just think they are kind of back to front.

Minum Sat 29-Dec-07 21:13:03

I really really dont want any more stuff - I think its naff for adults to exchange presents in a world of over consumption, waste, and excess. For me, Christmas is all about celebration, and getting together with people, and time out for spiritual contemplation. I love Oxfam unwrapped, for those people who want to buy a gift, and I really enjoy getting one.

I understand you should let people know you dont want presents, but if they still want to give them then I accept graciously, but stick to my guns and dont buy them back. I was really pleased this year that the family presents seem to have dropped off all round, but we had the best get-togethers ever.

meglet Sun 30-Dec-07 09:31:36

I do like the oxfam gifts, but also like a small something with it. It does remind me to stop my whining and that the majority of the world are far worse off than me.

Rather a charity gift than another scarf / box of biscuits etc...

PrismManchip Sun 30-Dec-07 10:38:00

No sobernow - it is very much not about equal value (though tbh it is about equal value in terms of thought and consideration).
I found what they did to be an assertion of power - they are very "different" to us and always banging on about it defensively. I think this was their way of saying "since you disregard us and our values, we shall do the same to you". The fact is, we are not nasty and there has been a great amount of goodwill in really quite tricky circumstances - obviously we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, ultimately.
That was the slap in the face that we all felt.
Nothing to do with money, charity, acquisition of stuff.

But it has levelled the playing field now, so much the better, really.

pinetreedog Sun 30-Dec-07 10:45:58

I know what you mean about the 'different values', prism. It's all those subtle little niggles that go on in families. It's the whole hinterland.

melinda Sun 30-Dec-07 11:01:37

They aren't presents though in any sense. I think you should be pretty sure that the recipient will like the fact that you gave to charity INSTEAD of giving a gift before you embark on this. I think people should say, 'We aren't giving gifts at all this year, but would like to make charity donations instead so please don't get us anything either'. And it would be graceful, IMO, if you are giving in someone else's name, to give to a charity they have a personal connection with. Otherwise, if you want to give to charity, just do so, and don't expect anyone to thank you for it. I think that's what I don't like. It's so ostentatious. As someone else said, it's noble to give out of your own beer/holiday/clothes budget, but not so much when people denying themselves nothing (and happily soaking up other people's largesse)but still feel holier than thou because they spent the money they would otherwise have spent on someone else on a goat. I give a bit to charity, but wouldn't dream of pretending that it's a gift to anyone but the charity and the people who benefit from it.

my problem with the oxfam unwrapped things are that its all about the ego of the giver, UNLESS they know that the receiver would appreciate it. its the 'ooh aren't i ethical' thing, and oxfam isn't a charity im too keen on anyhow...

there are ways to get round the smelly soap thing within families at least. our family gives one another the book, cd or dvd they most enjoyed themselves over the past year. they also tend to get passed around so everyone gets enjoyed about them.

MIL gave DH, D-SIL and myself Oxfam unwrapped presents. But this was agreed beforehand. I said to her at the time: "Oh is this what you want too?" That part hadn't occurred to her, interestingly, but to be fair, she said she did. Beats the "Lady of the Manor" pillow I received for my birthday by a longshot. DD is still getting a gift to open.

However, having said that I agree that unless you know someone wants to go down this route, the best charitable acts are anonymous ones - or by request - "If you want to give us a gift, please donate to xyz." Not ones that are thrust on others - advertising how 'right-on' you are.

Also, what hasn't come up yet is how awkward/embarrassing it must have been for people who gave this couple all these presents they "didn't want." It's like, sorry I spent £30 quid adding to your pile of cr**!!!

Knownowt Mon 07-Dec-09 18:54:00

Charitable gifts annoy me hugely. I find the people who give them misguidedly smug, as if they're doing something extra good by not giving anyone a present. The fact they have chosen to use the money to donate instead is beside the point- you can't be charitable on someone else's behalf. If someone doesn't want to give Christmas presents, that's fine. If they want to donate to charity, great. But trying to link the two, as if the donation is somehow a "gift" to friends and family, makes me cringe.

Asking for charitable gifts yourself, on the other hand, is fine.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now