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6 Kinds of Christmas Gifts to Avoid

6 Kinds of Christmas Gifts to Avoid

Ever received a gift that you later tossed into the closet, never to be seen or heard from again? One of the main pitfalls of gift-giving is buying a present for someone that they will have no use for.

However, great gifts can bring people closer and are often hugely appreciated by the receiver. We have all been the impractical gift-giver at some point, so pay attention to the kinds of presents to avoid wrapping up this holiday season.

1. The re-gift

Most people have re-gifted at some point in their lives. Christmas shopping is stressful and time-consuming, so people often re-gift books, DVDs, ornaments and other items they were previously given that they had no use for.

However this takes very little time and doesn’t require any effort or finances, so it could leave the receiver feeling undervalued or hurt. Ask yourself if this gift going to spend another year simply gathering dust on your loved one’s shelf?

Chris, 25, received a re-gift from his brother Mark when they were both teenagers, an untouched CD Mark had received the year before. Chris didn’t enjoy the artist and the album was out of date, but he was mainly hurt by the lack of thought on his brother’s part.

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“He just grabbed it and quickly wrapped it,” Chris said. “If he was short on time and money I would rather he just make me a card – I never listened to the CD [again] after the first time.”

The main reason people don’t enjoy re-gifts is because of the lack of thought put into them – family heirlooms and well planned re-gifts can be a huge success if your worry is money.

2. The overly practical gift

If you are buying gifts for someone you live with, and the item would still have been purchased, this isn’t much of a gift. A new microwave, laundry basket, or set of forks could be really useful in your house, but the recipient will probably feel that they were cheated out of a gift, as it doesn’t suit any of their personal interests.

Debbie, 54, was surprised to discover her husband Jeremy had bought her a mop for her birthday during the first year they lived together.

“We needed a mop, but if it had been any other month we would have still bought one,” she said. “I don’t enjoy cleaning and the present wasn’t exciting or fun. I made my feelings clear – he never bought me a gift like that again!”

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If your partner asks for a vacuum cleaner, it will make a great gift. But if they don’t, consider their hobbies and interests. What would put a genuine smile on their face?

3. The gift with a point

Gifts come with a message, and normally the message is affection and love. Everyone wants the best for the closest people in their lives, and presents can be a great way to help people grow.

However, sometimes gifts can send a message that is hurtful to the receiver. Often gifts with a point can try to help people self-improve, from treadmills to cookbooks to exercise DVDs. These gifts could leave the receiver feeling offended, as it may seem like you think they are lacking and could do to improve.

“Both of my parents love horses,” Sarah, 34, said. “They both work with them and ride in their free time. I’ve never been a fan of them myself, but my parents always wanted me to work with horses as well. When I was 14, they bought me a book about horses for Christmas – I told them then I had no interest in horses and the gift wasn’t suited to me. Thankfully, they apologized and now they would never try to get me on a horse.”

Even though this present is normally sent with the best intentions, to save trouble, think about areas they are already skilled in, so the present is more useful to the receiver.

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4. The ‘you don’t really know them’ gift

If you don’t know much about someone’s interests or passions, it can be hard to think of a gift they will enjoy. People often go for safe options like bath products, candles, and perfumes, which can be risky as people often dislike the scents, or are allergic to the products.

Reece, 22, was gifted a hunting knife from his neighbors when he was ten.

“I thought the gift was really cool, as I didn’t know the neighbors well, and I am still touched they considered me,” Reece said. “I’d never had an interest in hunting before, though, and I cut my finger pretty badly within a few hours of opening the present, so my dad took it away and I haven’t seen it since.”

If you don’t know someone well and you still want to get them something, gift cards are a great option to consider. Although some people think they are impersonal, it gives the individual the freedom to choose something for themselves that they will love.

5. The present with bad intentions

Unlike the gift with a point, this gift is never sent with good intentions. Examples include buying cleaning products for untidy housemates, dandruff shampoo to a sibling who doesn’t wash frequently, or exercise equipment for someone who is very weight conscious.

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“I lived with my sister and her boyfriend for a few weeks before Christmas when I first moved to Scotland,” said Natalie, 46. “On Christmas Day her boyfriend gave me a bed and breakfast guide for the city. I was embarrassed in front of my family – I wanted to curl up and disappear!”

People often send hurtful presents if they dislike confrontation and don’t know how to tackle the problem, but they can be very belittling to the receiver. The most respectful way to deal with any problems you have with someone is to talk to them openly, rather than possibly causing any emotional damage.

6. The gift for yourself

Often when you live with someone, gifts are used by everyone in the house. But are you buying the gift for them, or you? People often get excited about gifts they know they can use, so they create reasons why it is useful for everyone.

“Last year my wife bought me a foot massager, which I have used once – and she uses nearly every night,” said Nathan, 34. “I don’t work on my feet, so I didn’t really understand why she bought me it initially. I can see why now.”

This gift is often seen as selfish, as it doesn’t consider the person the gift is actually for and mainly benefits the person who bought it. This present is basically anything that you benefit from more than them – whether it is a car, a bottle of wine or a PS4.

Ask yourself if the present benefits you more than the person you are buying it for. If it does, keep looking until you find something you know that they, specifically, will love.

Featured photo credit: Another Christmas Tree Detail in Shopping/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Amy Johnson

Freelance writer, editor and social media manager.

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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