Opinion: I thought Christmas Eve boxes were bad but now the teens have online gift lists like soon-to-be married couples
Last year I unapologetically dumped into Room 101 the invention of Christmas Eve boxes.
Whilst appreciating the sentiment of wanting to make the night before Christmas special, the internet at the time was swamped with ‘influencers’ and celebrities embarking on the most elaborate gift giving hours before the biggest present exchange of the year, writes columnist Lauren Abbott.
From personalised boxes to embroidered satin pyjamas, together with anything from books, films, fluffy socks, blankets, sweets and bath bombs, it had reached such a stage Father Christmas must have been left scratching his head as to what to stuff in a stocking at midnight.
And by the time one supermarket was selling glow sticks under the guise of ‘items for your Christmas Eve box’ I questioned whether consumerism had taken this a step too far, in the midst of a terrible cost of living crisis, and perhaps we all needed to chill-out with a mug of hot chocolate from the cupboard and a well-thumbed copy of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?
One trip around the sun later and the world wide web is serving up some fresh Christmas horror this year in the form of online Christmas gift registry apps.
Having casually asked a relative what his teenage son might like for Christmas – a web link was duly dispatched to my phone.
But this wasn’t the dad’s electronic notes, made up of a few items he’d jotted down in passing he thought his soon-to-be 15-year-old might enjoy, but a full blown virtual wish list complete with photos and clickable links.
Not only that but it also generates a tick box once a gift has been bought – which then also dispatches a notification to the list’s owner telling them their request had been fulfilled. Magical eh?
Now I get it. The internet and technology can make things a WHOLE lot easier at this time of year.
I’ve so far received from one of my children (alongside a hand written letter for Santa) seven screen grabs sent via a tablet; two web links; a photo of a friend in a particular tracksuit and a video clip of the start of a football match to show me a jacket and soon I may have to put her on mute.
It is rather like the Argos catalogue of the modern day – but at least the magic still exists in not being sure entirely what might eventually arrive under the tree. Unless of course I start replying with large green tick emojis if I buy something?
There was also the time one of my kids slid into my laptop with a nine-slide Power Point presentation as to why they were responsible enough for a pet lizard. A firm 10/10 for initiative and effort and Ziggy the leopard gecko has been treated like a queen since the day she arrived (proving animals are indeed for life and not just for Christmas).
However, do we really need to be registering gift lists like soon-to-be married couples?
Family can be spread far and wide, so while I appreciate the convenience of being able to WhatsApp Granny the good stuff, what happened to a ‘Please may I have...’ message? Or even a phone call?
Christmas gift apps also allow you to share certain parts of a list with different sides of the family. Again, maybe helpful. It might stop ‘Uncle Dave’ spending money on something you don’t want - but it’ll be all off when everyone discovers ‘Aunt Jane’ only spent a fiver and everyone else twenty quid because all purchases are laid bare.
As I sit here waiting to bag my online Christmas food shop slot – I’m here for all the help I can get to make the pressure of the festive season that little bit easier.
But if Christmas gift registry apps take off I fear we may have just shot Santa.