Christmas Tat

image1No, this isn’t a post about my latest tattoo (I haven’t had a new tattoo since circa 2007!), but about what the lovely Brits refer to as “tat.” I’m sure Americans call it that occasionally, too, but I’d never heard the word used as such until I moved here. Useless junk. Tasteless whatnots. Whatever you want to call it.

Every year at Christmas, I notice more and more Christmas tat lining shelves by shop doors and registers, sections right along main entryways and aisles full of gift sets out the wazoo. I’m not talking about quality products that come in box sets. I’m talking boxes of cheap perfume and cologne, no-name-brand bath soaps, and cheap toys and novelty items that get played with for three days. The cheesy junk that feels like it was left over from a rummage sale. A reindeer hat that will get worn once and then given to a charity shop! A touchscreen stylus in the shape of a carrot! And then, there’s THIS.

Total impulse buys — just walk two inches in a department store and you’re bombarded with candy containers the size of Montana, boxed candle sets that smell more like feet than pine trees, and Christmas-themed EVERYTHING so you can basically buy one of each and be set for your entire gift list.


Seeing all this junk makes me think extra hard about what I buy for people these days. Christmas isn’t JUST about giving, but giving is a lot of what we do at the holidays. And giving isn’t just about buying something on your way to the register so you can fulfil an obligation. Companies package stuff in a clear plastic tray inside an easy-to-store red & green box, practically screaming, “This is an awesome buy! Look, it’s all holiday-ready and all you have to do is stick it in one of these nifty £5 gift bags (when an entire roll of Christmas wrapping paper might only cost £2)!”

I was reminded even more of this last month. Black Friday has made its way to the UK (despite there being no Thanksgiving and national holiday and therefore no crucial day off work on Friday for people to shop). Stores were in the news for hordes of people stampeding for dusty big-screen TVs that no one would touch 2 months ago because they were cheap, overstocked rubbish. But take ten quid off the price, put a bow on them, open the doors 3 hours early, and BAM! Instant sellout.

I love giving gifts. Things I think people will enjoy, or need, not what’s easy to grab on my way toward the tills. Making things or buying personalised items or just something that took a bit of consideration is what I want to do. And the more outrageous the tat gets, the easier it is for me to think about what I’m giving to someone else. I want to say, “I care about you and I thought about you,” not, “I ticked you off a list, here’s random item #8.” It’s so easy to get swept up into the consumerism madness, but it’s all just stuff, in the end. I want the stuff to symbolise something much more important: the love and appreciation I have for someone else being part of my life.

(That’s not to say I didn’t buy a whoopie cushion at a gift shop last summer. But I bought that for myself. 😉

May your Christmas season be filled with love, family, friends, and peace <3



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7 thoughts on “Christmas Tat

  1. Well put! That’s how I like to give gifts too, Chy. I love giving and/or making meaningful gifts. I hope you and Dugald have a lovely Christmas holiday!

  2. I there 🙂

    I liked your pitch for SFFpit very much (I think I RT it quite a few times) so I ended up wondering what you’re up to on your blog.

    I like this post on gifts on Christmas. Know what? I hate doing presents at Christmas, just because you’re kind of forced to. I like doing presents to people I love, but I like doing them on the impulse, becuase I feel like it, when I see something that make me think to that person, even if it isn’t her birthday or it isn’t Christmas or whatever.
    To me, Christmas seems the opposit of what it should be 🙁

    1. Yes, thank you SO much for your support during SFFpit!! It’s greatly appreciated 🙂 I love your gorgeous website and know I’m going to enjoy exploring it! I’m so with you on the presents. I love giving gifts to others, especially if I know they’ll make use of it, love it, and be blessed by it, but commercialism has turned a beautiful celebration into, as you say, a forced gift-giving and money-spending. It’s all about the latest electronics these days. When I go to a Christmas service and sing carols with a group of people, or when I’m decorating the tree, or seeing pretty lights on a frosty evening, just spending time with family and friends, and those peaceful moments in the evening, that’s what I love about Christmas. The presents? I could take or leave. I am so grateful when given anything, but if I had to choose, I’d choose the special moments and reflections rather than the gifts!

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more Cheyenne! Cheap, catch-all novelty gifts have just about taken over the season (though I have to admit, that gift of ‘nothing’ seemed quite in line with our times and had me laughing pretty hard). Lately, I feel like I don’t even “see” those sections/aisles/displays anymore, because it’s such sensory overload. That’s where, on a personal level, you have to decide what you want the holiday about, and what kind of “giver” you want to be. Your post reminds me that I don’t want to just check people off my list, I want to make them feel known and cared about.

    1. I couldn’t believe that “Nothing” gift — I just kept staring at the screen as if an explanation would pop out at me! LOL. And yes, it’s hard to even notice the junk/novelty stuff because it’s just so in your face, you become desensitised quickly. I wanted to remind myself of all this because somehow, this year, I ended up VERY last minute and haven’t even properly done cards or made Christmas cookie cut-outs and done all the stuff I love about Christmas. I don’t want to fall into the trap! I hope you and your family have a cozy and peaceful season 🙂

  4. My ‘running’ wish list for both my birthday and Christmas is always topped with “No knick-knacks.” I despise knick-knacks. 99% of the time they are thoughtless gifts, like you said.

    And it’s not uncommon to find things like ‘skirt hangers’ (at the top of my Christmas list this year, actually, because those things are friggin expensive and I’ve been making do with clothespins and wire hangers), or new kitchen utensils, etc, on my list. I think I have a new slow cooker on my list this year, too.

    I’d rather have something I need, versus something that was bought so that someone can say they got me something. The latter implies that they don’t actually know me well enough to be buying me a gift anyway.

    This year, even though I didn’t make as much handmade stuff as I wanted to, I have definitely gone out of my way to buy things for family and friends that I know are things they will enjoy – and not collect dust – or are things they need. Those are always the best gifts!

    1. I’m with you on the practical wishlist items! I actually squeal with glee over receiving things like socks and gloves, and I had some kitchen items on my list this year that are going to change my world. Haha… those things are the best! Though it is nice to get things I want but don’t need. The thought counts 🙂 And yes, handmade stuff is awesome both to give and receive!

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