Why my family has banned present buying over the age of 21

Late night Christmas shopping and lights in Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Ellie Pringle on why her extended family doesn't buy presents over the age of 21 - Credit: Archant Norfolk

If you’ve ever read my column before you might have noticed I’m just a little bit excited about Christmas.  

My family are spread across the country so it’s one of the only times of the year I get to spend quality time with them.  

And in the office this week I’ve heard the beginnings of grumbling about saving for presents. 

I mentioned to my colleagues that in my - pretty large - extended family we've banned present buying for people over the age of 21.  

The reaction was bemused silence but the method truly works brilliantly.  

First off, Christmas isn’t about presents anyway, so why does it matter if you get a few less when you get older?  

Secondly, it eradicates the need for awkward reciprocation.  

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I love my aunts but I haven’t got the faintest idea what I’d buy for them. Scarves? Lip balm? Cyroptocurrency?  

And likewise I suspect they wouldn’t really know what to buy me.

So not only does it mean I can give my cousins a hug and then pour myself a drink instead of awkwardly handing them a bargain bath bomb, it also cuts down on waste.

It also means that the precious time I do have with my family I get to genuinely catch up with them instead of opening presents and then launching the wrapping paper clean-up operation half an hour later. 

Last but not least, it’s a massive money saver.  

I haven’t got a tonne of cash and I know my family would rather I spend it on an MOT than on something they’ll never use.  

And that works both ways – I’d rather my uncle bought himself some unusual IPAs than spending the funds on socks which are too small.  

The compromise we’ve reached is that at the age of 21 the aunts, uncles, and anyone else who wants to, all chip in for a bigger present.  

I bought myself a watch which I wear every day and could probably last me a lifetime.  

I can’t remember what my uncle bought me the year before that, or my aunt the year before that.  

Instead, it makes me smile every time I check the time.