If you plan to celebrate this Christmas, you might want to start thinking about selecting presents for your family members. Although annual “perfect gift” quest is fun, the whole process can be quite stressful. How do you know what the appropriate price range for Xmas treats is and whether you should give a present to your aunt who you meet once a decade?
In his book “The Intentional Family” William J. Doherty talks about a study which was conducted in the late 1970s. While interviewing families in the United States the researchers discovered there are very clear Christmas rules for gift giving. Despite some variation among families of different ethnic groups, these guidelines appear to be widely followed in American society. Let’s find out what the 8 Golden Rules of Christmas Gift-Giving are:
The Decoration Rule
Any room where Christmas gifts are distributed should be properly decorated. The presents should lie under the Christmas tree and the room should be filled with various Christmas accessories.
The Wrapping Rule
Christmas presents should be wrapped before they are given. The nice wrapping adds up to the festive aura of the Christmas celebration and brings sense of delightful surprise.
The Gathering Rule
Christmas presents should be distributes at get-togethers where every person gives and receives gifts.
The Dinner Rule
The family gift giving should be followed by a traditional Christmas Dinner.
The Gift Selection Rule
All Christmas presents should:
- Demonstrate that you know the receiver’s preferences
- At the same time surprise the receiver
- The gifts should be scaled in economic value to the emotional value of the relationship. (I.e. you shouldn’t buy your niece a gift of far greater value than the gift to your daughter).
The Scaling Rules
- Husband-wife gifts are highest in value, followed by parents to children.
- Parents with more than one child give them gifts of approximately equal value.
- Children do not give more expensive presents to parents than parents give to children.
- Treat your parents and parents-in-law equally.
- Treat your married relatives’ spouses equally with your relatives, e.g., you give your brother-in-law a gift roughly equal to your sister’s.
- Gifts for siblings who live nearby and are part of one’s network should be equal, but far away siblings may be given lesser gifts.
- More distant relatives such as cousin and aunts may be on the par with siblings if they are part of one’s network.
- Gifts to friends should not be valued more than gifts to spouses, parents, or children.
Money is a suitable present from senior to junior kin; for example, from grandmother to grandson. Grandchild should never give grandparents or parents money, regardless of the relative affluence of the parties.
The Reciprocity Rule
Family members should give at least one Christmas gift every year to their mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, to the current spouse of these persons, and to their own spouses. The participants expect to receive at least one gift in return from each of these persons excepting infants. The rule does not require the gifts to be of equal value. Imbalance between the generations is central to the entire ritual, as parents give more than they received from their young children.
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