3.5 C
Elmira
Monday, February 24, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Gifts about giving of time and money

TRENDING

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Forks up to farmers on well-timed Agriculture Day

February is not the most obvious time to celebrate agriculture in Canada. But that’s...

Need for dementia research will only keep growing

Along with financial insecurity due to inadequate pensions, Canadians have health issues to worry about as society ages...

THIS WEEK

Elmira
clear sky
3.5 ° C
7.8 °
-0.6 °
69 %
1.9kmh
1 %
Mon
11 °
Tue
3 °
Wed
8 °
Thu
2 °
Fri
-4 °

Canadians expected to spend an average of $652 on holiday shopping this year, says a new poll.

It is the holiday shopping season, with busy malls, packed parking lots and the struggle to find that perfect something for everyone on your Christmas list.

It may seem easier to hand over an envelope on Christmas morning with cash or a gift card in it, but Bradley Ruffle, an associate professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University and expert in gift giving, says to brave the crowds and keep looking for a thoughtful and meaningful gift this year.

“Gift cards are an interesting phenomenon,” he said. “Cash isn’t accepted sometimes. Gift cards are almost cash, yet they tend to be accepted increasingly. I don’t think they show the thought that buying an actual present or gift does. If you actually go into a store and find that particular item they like, I think that gives you a little more bang for your buck.”

Even though they don’t show as much thought or personalization, Ruffle says that gift cards at Christmas are on the rise, and have been for the last few years.

“[They] are certainly becoming more popular and I expect that trend to continue,” he said, adding that they are becoming more popular in conjunction with online shopping rather than braving the busy holiday crowds. “Certainly, in the digital age, where we can find whatever we want, it makes it more difficult for gift-givers to find something that is unique and special to the recipient. We are all busy, so gift cards are an easy go-to.”

Giving gifts at Christmastime is so widespread, many don’t question the reason behind the tradition. According to the Canadian Museum of History, the practice of giving gifts used to centre around New Years rather than Dec. 25. Slowly, as industrialization took hold, Canadians had more expendable income, and gift-giving moved to the tradition we know today – unwrapping presents on Christmas morning in front of the decorated tree, surrounded by family and friends.

Ruffle says the custom of giving gifts on Christmas has become the commonly accepted practice.

“To not give a (Christmas) gift is very awkward,” he said. “It breaks that social norm.”

Whether it is a gift card or a wrapped present with ribbons, Ruffle believes the act of gift-giving is a way to boost, or even maintain, relationships. It doesn’t even have to be a Christmas present.

“[Gift-giving says], ‘here, I care about you,’” he said. “It might be giving a gift to someone that doesn’t expect one, or it might be giving a gift that signals, ‘I really know your tastes.’ That person thinks, ‘they really took the time to think of me and really know me well.’ A lot of gifts are thoughtful, and it doesn’t need to be Christmas specifically. Maybe we travelled somewhere and thought of someone, or we think of something that is unique. Those kinds of gifts are very much appreciated. It is all about relationships and indicating our interest in maintaining or even furthering the relationship.”

That drive to give a meaningful gift, especially at Christmas, accounts for 3.5 per cent of Canadian spending. Last year, a Bank of Montreal survey found that shoppers spent an average of $1,810 celebrating the holiday season, around $500 spent exclusively on presents.

CIBC this week released the results of a survey that show Christmas spending has increased to $652 this year, with the majority (55 per cent) making an effort to stay within budget. Ruffle says the amount may be a bit more than the average Canadian can afford.

“Credit cards certainly facilitate that,” he said. “Buying things on credit and worrying about paying the bills in the new year is a common phenomenon.”

Ruffle says that as a result, retailers see a boost just before the holiday season.

“I think the impact is concentrated right around Christmas,” he said, adding that if the gift-giving tradition wasn’t centered around the winter holidays, Canadians would probably spend more at other holidays, cementing the importance of showing someone you care with a thoughtful present. “If we didn’t give presents at Christmastime, would we give them at another time of year? If there was no Christmas, we would just give bigger gifts on birthdays. Would we create extra holidays to make sure that everyone is getting a gift at some point?”

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Under the auctioneer’s gavel to provide help Down Under

After seeing the devastation from the Australian wildfires, a local art collector sold the first painting she ever bought on Saturday to help raise money for relief efforts there. Nancy...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

EDSS performers take Broadway under the sea

By Steve Kannon skannon@woolwichobserver.com The tropics, under the sea or otherwise, seem like a much better place...

Sugar Kings win three games, clinch first place

In need of just one more win to clinch first place in the Midwestern Conference, the Elmira Sugar Kings claimed all three games...

U.S. edges out Canada in national para hockey battle

In the natural on-ice rivalry between Canada and the U.S., the American para hockey team has had the advantage in recent years. That...
- Advertisement -