The greatest lie ever told in the run-up to Christmas is this - it’s the thought that counts. Believe me, it’s definitely not the thought that counts. It’s the actual present and whether it’s a good match for the person getting it.
"The thought that counts" is meant to provide cover for whatever gift you give - no matter how inappropriate.
As the recipient of a lot of dud gifts, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I mostly don’t want tea towels or aprons with obscenities on them. I definitely don’t want little china ballerinas.
I am forensic in my Christmas/Chanukah preparation. I ask lots of straightforward questions of both you and your nearest and dearest - and then look for the best possible match I can afford, so I was shocked to read recently that most Australians say they would be happy to receive a second-hand present for Christmas "but are shy about giving one for fear of looking cheap".
If you are thinking about buying me a second-hand present, stop right there. I am pretty confident I don’t want it.
For all I know, it’s inhabited by some angry spirit and I have enough of my own. Or you are giving it away because you got it and don’t want it and you have forgotten to remove the tag addressed to you.
Yasmine Musharbash, anthropologist at the University of Sydney, says you need to be really careful with the 2nd-hand present concept. Her advice is to think about the occasion and the type of person. "A second-hand gift is perfectly fine unless it is someone’s birthday or Christmas," she says.
And while you are considering the purchase of a second-hand gift because of a survey by a company which is all about the second-hand, let me just say this: there is a special place in the aisles of Ikea for people who forget to remove those Christmas tags addressed to the previous recipient.
Regifting? Don’t do it. You didn’t want it. Why would anyone else?
- Jenna Price is a Fairfax Media columnist.