Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Who has time for home-made presents? Get down to the sales'

In The Red

Oh no. Just when I was starting to reconcile myself to the spend-fest that is Christmas, along come the financial puritans to make me feel guilty. You know who they are: those squeaky-clean thrifty sorts who shun Christmas consumerism in favour of worthy home-spun offerings, free from the dirty paw-marks of multi-national mass production and crass capitalism.

This year they caught me unawares. In fact, in a bizarre incident of role reversal, they cried out at me from the traditionally promotion-packed pages of a glossy magazine. And, perhaps even more startlingly, they have assumed the photogenic form of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

"We exchange gifts, though we don't feel any pressure to make them big or expensive," cooed Brad in a recent interview. "The rule is that everyone's got to make one for someone else and you got to put time into it. The kids don't ask for big gifts for the reason that they don't watch American cartoon television, which is packed with all those manipulative commercials for big toys that look so fantastic."

Hmm. How sweet. Perhaps I should have... Oh, who am I kidding? It's Christmas for goodness' sake. This is not the time to start feeling guilty. Surely it's the one time that we should be able to set aside our joyless penny-pinching and actually feel good about splashing out on a cashmere scarf for Mum.

Quite aside from their nauseating smugness, Brad's comments aren't exactly helpful.

Finding time to make gifts is a luxury that most people can't afford. No doubt international movie stars on six-figure salaries have plenty of it – but I certainly don't. And neither, I'm sure, do most people: when you've got a job that entails spending most of the day in an office, throwing together a quick hand-crafted candle-holder seems like an impossibility.

There is, of course, an alternative: we could simply exercise a little restraint. There aren't many upsides to The-Worst-Recession-Since-Goodness-Knows-When, but if there is one, it is the fact that we've had the post-Christmas sales now, before Yule has even started. Virtually everything I've bought has had a sale sticker slapped on beforehand and (so far) I've managed to get by without spending too much.

So while I won't be passing on any hand-made presents, neither will I be handing over my entire bank-balance. Of course when it comes to it, I doubt anyone will kick up a fuss if, on 25 December, Brad hands over his homemade offering. After all, it'll fetch a fortune on eBay.

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