Avoid Giving These 4 Gifts for Christmas Unless You Want to Make Your Recipient Poorer

Joanne Poh


My idea of a great Christmas gift is anything that lets me spend less in the coming year. This means gifts of toilet paper, supermarket vouchers and offers to foot my medical insurance bill are all welcome, despite their low Romantic Quotient scores. But that’s just me.

Now, I’m not saying you should do your Christmas shopping at NTUC. But on behalf of broke Singaporeans everywhere, please for the love of Santa Claus don’t buy your recipients stuff that will make them poorer—there is already enough in Singapore to empty our pockets. Here are four types of gifts to avoid.



You might have heard your loved one coo over one too many cat videos on YouTube or express a fervent desire to become part of a pug meetup group. But whatever you do, resist the urge to head to the SPCA or, worse, a breeder to pick up a fluffy bundle of joy for your recipient.

Even if the pet is adopted from a shelter and comes vaccinated, sterilised and so on, your recipient is going to face the financial burden of taking it for regular check ups, feeding it and footing the countless other expenses that come with pet ownership. If your recipient is craving some cuteness, get them to download Neko Atsume instead.


Vouchers at expensive shops

A $20 voucher at Louis Vuitton is about as useful as tax rebates when your income is $800 a month.  While vouchers can be a quick and easy way to get something your recipient is unlikely to absolutely hate, choose the store with care.

Just because you think Chanel sells lovely items that you would like to own doesn’t mean you should get your friend a voucher there unless you’re certain she is the sort of person who regularly shells out hundreds/thousands of dollars on their products—because she is going to have to if she doesn’t intend to toss your voucher in the trash.


High maintenance items

If your friend wanted to own an item he’d have to spend lots of money to upkeep, he’d have gone looking for a girlfriend at Orchard Towers. Gifts that cost money to maintain are usually not a good idea, especially if the recipient wasn’t thinking of buying something similar.

High maintenance items include clothes that have to be dry-cleaned, gadgets with expensive or hard-to-find batteries like vintage cameras and devices that must be serviced or maintained, like complicated coffee machines.


Items that require the recipient to purchase more stuff

Once upon a time, your recipient was a happy, carefree person who lived a simple life, free from the burden of having to spend lots of money. But ever since he received that PlayStation 4, life has been an exhausting run on the rat race hamster wheel as his parents slog away to earn money to afford the latest games, which usually cost over $70 a pop.

Pandora bracelets are another item to avoid at all costs. These accessories not only look like something a 15-year-old boy would buy for his crush, the tiny charms you’re supposed to “collect” for them are also hideously overpriced at $53 to $100+++ each. If you’re an unsuspecting boyfriend thinking of buying this bracelet for your girlfriend, no prizes for guessing who is going to be financing the rest of the charms.

What questionable gifts have you received in your lifetime? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.