Discount Dad – a cautionary tale

Yesterday’s post on stingy giving reminds me of something a colleague related to me.  A few years earlier her ex-husband, who lives in another city, had posted their children – then aged about 12 and 14 – a Christmas parcel.

On Christmas morning, after opening her father’s presents, her daughter looked up with hurt-filled eyes, and said: 

“They’re all from The Two Dollar Shop, Mom.”  Her older brother concurred.  Every last item was from the ubiquitous dime store chain.

How did they know?  Because that’s where kids go to spend their pocket money.

These were no spoilt brats, griping because they hadn’t gotten Playstations.  Rather, they had deduced that the gifts could correlate to how much their (well-off) father did – or didn’t – love and value them.  And at about $15 each, the signal was: not very much, apparently. 

In fact, I’m pretty sure he does love his kids.  Probably it was just a lapse of judgement:  he thought he could cut corners in terms of both the expense and effort of Christmas shopping, and nobody would be any the wiser. 

It is possible to buy great gifts for nearly nothing.  Some of the most original, amusing and thought-filled gifts I’ve ever given were purchased for only a few dollars (through online auctions).   But to be a success, there should be more – much more – than cost-saving at the heart of it.

It’s also a lesson to think about where your gift recipients do their shopping.  If they regularly shop at the same store you happen to be buying from, bear that in mind when you’re snapping up those dazzling end-of-season markdowns to use as gifts.

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