I postponed buying my brother and his girlfriend a (specific) Christmas gift because I wanted to check if they have already bought it. Then I forgot about it. When I remembered, the stores selling it had already closed for Christmas. At our gift exchange, they did not have a gift for us, but my mother included their names on a gift tag for a present she gave us.

No gift giving rules were established prior to Christmas. The lack of gifts was not discussed afterwards. The lack of gift exchange between us breaks with tradition.

I would still like to get them this specific gift that they previously expressed interest in. How long should I wait before giving this gift to avoid linking it with Christmas presents or lack thereof?

I think exchanging gifts at Christmas is silly, and am happy to give gifts whenever I find something I think someone would appreciate it (why wait for Christmas?) and feel generous.


It may be just my personal feelings about Christmas and other gift giving occasions coming through, but gifts given "just because" always feel more meaningful to give and to receive.

The notion that the gift need be sufficiently separated from Christmas seems a bit silly. It reinforces the idea that gift giving is transactional, and transactional gift giving isn't really gift giving, now is it.

I understand that there's an attempt to save face here and appear as though you didn't forget, but that probably shouldn't be the point either. If you're going to give a gift, make it a real gift. No saving face, no keeping up appearances or traditions. Just a:

I know this would make you happy, so here.

I know it's just my opinion, and I'm very fond of unpopular opinions, but a gift shouldn't be tied to a sense of obligation. It should be something you do selflessly because you honestly want to make someone happy.

If it's a late Christmas present, let it be that and be honest about it. The humble honesty of a late, but meaningful, gift has merit too. At least they know that you care, and you didn't need to play games about the appropriate length of time to wait after Christmas.

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