Oxfam Unwrapped - yeah yeah but it's still a joyless slap in the face to actually receive one, isn't it?(97 Posts)
A couple in DH's family this year decided to give Oxfam Unwrapped to everyone: apparently "Because we have so much stuff" . 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])
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.
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**!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
pinetreedog - I totally agree!!
Next year my family are going to do a secret santa which I think will be a good happy medium.
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.
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.
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?!
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."
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.
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