Christmas is a complex, emotionally loaded mix of romanticised mythology and pragmatic reality with the giving and receiving of gifts at the core of most peoples’ secular festivities.

It’s not as though we don’t know Christmas is coming (it’s on the same day every year, right?) and yet some of us still leave gift shopping until the last minute.

Why do people put off Christmas shopping?

Christmas shopping is not as simple as ticking people off from an annual obligation list. If it were, then people would shop efficiently with time to spare. Even during the manic seasonal run-up.

Instead, many of us procrastinate.

We are frozen by anxiety into a state of inactivity. Fearing each purchase we plan to make, worried about how our gifts will be judged by the recipients.

It has to say something

At its simplest, a gift is an expression of attention, love and affection in an age where people struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Current economic uncertainty increases financial stress, and many people are so time-poor that it’s almost impossible to sustain care for themselves, let alone caring for others.

So the gift is left to say it all and, therefore, it has to speak volumes. It has to be profound and eloquent, and provide evidence of all of the subtlest feelings inarticulately stumbled over – or omitted – during the previous twelve months.

Plus gifts have to come in on budget and be most likely given to people who probably don’t actually need any more ‘things’ in their life. No wonder so many of us panic and leave Christmas shopping right until the last minute.

Great expectations

And it’s not as if the presents we finally choose are terrible. It’s just that the portent of the gift – the significance we have imbued it with can rarely if ever, be fully realised – however beautifully wrapped it is.

If you really want to give a long term gift, work on the deeper issues at play by talking through any relationship issues with a professional and nail that work-life balance before 2020 kicks off.