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Should you set a Christmas present price limit with your partner?

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Buying Christmas presents for a partner; an exciting expression of love or a financial stress? We asked five women whether they set a price limit on Christmas presents in their relationship and why. 

Are you the kind of person who gets just as excited about giving presents, as you do receiving them? Maybe you jot down a little note in your phone when a loved one mentions something they’ve been hankering after, or research gift wrapping ideas months in advance.

All of this, though, is expensive. In fact, the whole of Christmas is expensive. It starts with the festive drinks and meals, the glittery wardrobe attire you’ll need to wear to them, the secret Santas and Christmas pop-ups, film showings and ice skating. Oh, and this is before you’ve started Christmas shopping for your family, friends and potentially the most expensive of them all – partner.

There’s something about choosing a gift for the person you’re in a relationship with that piles on a whole new level of pressure. You want to show them you care, that you know them and that you’re willing to treat them. But without a price limit, can expectations – and the amount your spending – go too far?

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For some, the answer is a definite yes. Speaking to stylist.co.uk, make-up artist Jessica, 29, explains how Christmas spending spiralled out of control with her ex-boyfriend: “I have quite expensive taste. I’m the kind of person who will always favour a luxury brand name, and I’m actively trying to build up my collection of designer handbags, but the problem is my salary doesn’t always support that. 

“My ex-boyfriend was the same, so when it came to Christmas we would go wild. I bought him Gucci loafers, designer wallets, nights away in exclusive hotels, but my bank balance couldn’t cope. He was earning a lot more than me so I think it was a little easier for him – and don’t get me wrong, I was SO excited when I got the Burberry bag I’d be looking at for months – but in the end, it became a subject that panicked me.”

Jo Tooley, a 27-year-old graphic designer agrees. But not because of the financial stress of buying gifts, instead because it controls expectations and sets an even playing field. “I’m really creative but my boyfriend is the complete opposite and he struggles to buy me gifts he knows I’ll love. We decided to set a limit so that we roughly buy each other the same amount. Otherwise I get excited and will turn up at his house with an armful of presents and he’ll have just got me one. It’s not about quantity, but it’s nice to be on the same page, and then he doesn’t feel bad when he has 10 things to open and I’m my pile is looking considerably smaller.”

In fact, setting a limit doesn’t need to just apply to your partner, as Sophie Iremonger, a 27-year-old teacher says. She finds it useful for her entire family, explaining: “I’m not in a relationship, but I actually set a limit with my siblings and parents so that none of us feel too pressured. It helps us all know when to stop.”

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For others, though, this totally removes the magic of the experience. Alisha Salina, a social media manager, says that she would never set a limit with her partner because they “would be able to guess what the gifts were, or at least have an idea.”

Recruitment consultant, Katy Hill, says it should be up to the individual. “I absolutely love buying presents, and to feel held back by a price limit would make me really sad,” she says.

“It’s Christmas – I want to go a little crazy! Everyone spends too much at this time of year, but you recoup in the first few months of the next year, and it’s all worth it to see the look on their face. If you do feel the need to set a limit I would say it’s a guideline, and if you fancy going over you should.”

Ultimately, the decision is entirely yours and no situation is the same. Every person has a different set of financial responsibilities, living costs and salary, which all contribute to how they would feel about setting a limit and what that limit would be. 

Among the women we asked the amount £100 came up nearly every time, but with the whole of the world wide web at our finger tips there are lots of gorgeous gift options under £50, £15 or less. 

At the end of the day, though, remember it’s the thought that counts. That’s the spirit of Christmas, right?

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Images: Unsplash - Kira Auf Der Heide

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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