Christmas Gift Guides: a sea of stereotypes and predictability

Xmas gift guideAs the start of December draws near, so the annual avalanche of Christmas Gift Guides arrives in every publication possible.

At some point during October (or even earlier), every magazine, newspaper or ecommerce website office around the country has the same inevitable meeting that results in some poor soul being commissioned to source the products for the gift guide.

More often that not, the guide is ‘helpfully’ split up into stereotypical categories, such as “Gifts for Him”, “Ideas for Her”, “For the awkward uncle”, which are simply an excuse to trot out the same sort of tat that appears every year.

There are two reasons why I find these utterly depressing:

1) All the suggestions are lowest-common denominator: men’s presents are nearly always black or red and football/beer/golf/gadget-related, while women – apparently – only desire scented candles, anything from Jo Malone, or stationery.

There doesn’t seem to be any imagination at all in the selections. It’s almost as if there’s a checklist they’re marking things off against.

  • Something sporty for Dad? Check.
  • Football-shaped bottle opener for Grandpa? Bingo.
  • Smellies for Mum? Lovely
  • Pink notebook from Moleskine for older sister? Sorted

2) The double standards of parts of society: The campaign against stores such as Toys R Us and M&S to encourage them to make toys gender-neutral has been almost deafening.

Yet, the very same groups who rail against this sort of brainwashing don’t think twice about the way they’re force-fed similar every festive season. Why don’t they complain to Next about the way they segment their clothing ranges? I’m being flippant, but the point is the same.

Gifts should come from a place of love and understanding of the recipient, not a ‘buy by numbers’ exercise, so I – for one – will be flicking straight past the deluge I’m anticipating over the next 30 days.

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