Last updated at 18:20 GMT, Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas gifts

Every week we ask you a different question. Hear what people in London say, then join the conversation!

Is it best to give or receive presents?

Join the conversation. Is it best to give or receive presents?

The Express English team

This is what some people in London told us.

Many people get more satisfaction from giving than receiving presents as they watch the reaction of someone they pick the perfect present for.

Asked about the worst gift she has ever received, a woman mentioned things that the giver pulled out of his closet. A re-gift.

Did you know?


The Christmas tree was first popularised in Britain by Prince Albert in the 19th century, who brought the tradition over from Germany.

Language tip

The humorous expression 'like turkeys voting for (an early) Christmas' is used when someone accepts a situation which will have a negative outcome for them.

Cultural tip

Mistletoe is a plant that grows on the branches of some trees and is used in Britain and the United States as a Christmas decoration. People often kiss under it. Some hold the superstition that failing to kiss someone ensures a year of loneliness.

End of Section

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Is it best to give or receive presents?

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    • 1. At 3:20pm on 19 Dec 2011, olya wrote:

      I like give presents it means a lot to me, because I always give presents with love. See the happiness or a big smile someone's face is just make me so happy. Sometimes I buy something what I would like to get as a gift, and it's usually works people are always happy after all :) I don't like receive presents too much, because I can't show my real feelings about it. I'm much happier when I give a present especially to my family.

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    • 2. At 3:22pm on 19 Dec 2011, Alan wrote:

      I prefer to give my friends' gifts rather than receive gifts from them.It’s a way to show my love to them. What is more,gifts are testimory of our friendship.

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    • 3. At 3:29pm on 19 Dec 2011, zunatta wrote:

      i enjoy giving the presents, and not only giving but chosing and buying them too. while doing that i think in the happiness that i can bring to this person, and a happy moments that we can share together. i really love doing presents but only if i have enogh money tobu the present that i want. Sometime it´s enough to apply a little of imagination and you can make a perfect present as i did once for my boyfriend. it was a very funny presentation in power point with music and our picteres, it was great!

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    • 4. At 4:44pm on 19 Dec 2011, Kazimir wrote:

      As for me, I like to give presents rather than receive them. I don’t know why, but during my childhood I liked to give presents too because that was so exciting to watch happy people who got that present. And it’s true that the preparation of a gift - I mean its picking out, wrapping into the cover and certainly the process of presenting itself - is more exciting than the process of receiving.

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    • 5. At 5:58pm on 19 Dec 2011, mun wrote:

      for me nothing is better neither giving nor taking .....i donno why people always knot festivals and gifts together....wasting money is main criteria .It not only empties pocket but also increases debris on earth after its usage .....the best way is to choose alternative mode of wishing others on occasions i.e by communication

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    • 6. At 7:36pm on 19 Dec 2011, Tanica_g wrote:

      In my case it is better to receive presents, because I don't have much imagination for giving presents.

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    • 7. At 7:53pm on 19 Dec 2011, Cruzerland wrote:

      Hello there,

      I think it depends on each person. But me I prefer to offer the gifts. I never learned to receive a gift, I even feel embarrased when it happens. Recently, a girl made me discover the joy to give to someone that you appreciate. Thanks for that

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    • 8. At 8:15pm on 19 Dec 2011, Jose Daniel Gamez Rodriguez wrote:


      I love Christmas because all the time is celebrations with family and friends....You give and recibe presents and many Chritmas dinner it wonderfull.....Always I give presents to my family and friend I enjoy to see their faces when open it and say "I like thanks" the chrsitmas day we put the present on the christmas tree and at nitgh everybody open these.

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    • 9. At 10:57pm on 19 Dec 2011, sonu wrote:

      First of all Happy Christmas to all readers.In my opinion every festival teached us something like sharing,love ,family value etc.So the christmaswhen you make happy to others then only you can be happy.When christmas comes , I like to be with my family.I wish in this christmas all the good dreams come true for everybody in this world.

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    • 10. At 01:22am on 20 Dec 2011, Emanuelrocha wrote:

      Well, I used to prefer giving to receiving presents when I was younger. I'd prefer exchanging presents in secret Santas. Although I'd feel embarassed in either situation, that feeling used to be stronger when I wasn't expecting it, so that I had bought nothing to give in return. That's because I'd find it quite difficult to know how to react: should I tell any white lies not to hurt the person's feelings? If they offered either to exchange the gift for me or to give me the receipt, should I accept? Should I promise to give him/her a present in return? if so, would it sound as if I thought only money mattered? But now, hopefully I'm much less worried about those things.

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    • 11. At 02:44am on 20 Dec 2011, YinChun wrote:

      Rather than receiving, i am happy to give present to other persons, especially chidrens. chidrens will think they get them from santa claus, it is relly funny.

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    • 12. At 04:33am on 20 Dec 2011, Truong Le wrote:

      Giving presents are the meaningful thing, which bring a great deal of happiness for people. This shows the care to surrounding people. But, I would rather receive than give presents.

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    • 13. At 07:44am on 20 Dec 2011, narrosgirl wrote:

      I like picks gifts for everyone. I think each gift carefully. It's easy to me because I'm a observer person. But, when I open a gift, I became sometimes a little disappointed, I don´t know why... It's possible we have a lot of things, we don´t need really anything... It's because of our consumer society?

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    • 14. At 08:30am on 20 Dec 2011, Malvern House students wrote:

      I like to give a present to people who I love to express my feeling about them. I look for a decent present. Whilst looking I feel very happy because I can imagine the look on their face.

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    • 15. At 09:51am on 20 Dec 2011, Vera_Kuzub wrote:

      I can't tell what is the best. I like to give and to receive presents. It is very exciting and gives much pleasure when you see happines on the people faces. And it nice to know that someone cares about you and wants to bring you smile.

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    • 16. At 11:30am on 20 Dec 2011, Anna Ave wrote:

      For me it is better to receive gifts, because it is always exciting. Giving gifts I feel somewhat awkward as it is impossible to predict what a person really feels about your present.

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    • 17. At 2:48pm on 20 Dec 2011, Sally wrote:

      It's always happy to get a gift from people but when I give something for them, I'm more excited giving it. I especially like to write a letter on a special day for my friends. I usually collect the friend's picture and make a funny or lovely big picture by using photoshop. I imagine the moment when they get my present, I get more energy to prepare something for them.

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    • 18. At 6:39pm on 20 Dec 2011, purplecamomile wrote:

      i'd like to receiving gifts rather than give :) i really can't get any present to people. such a hard job to buying someone espically if you dont know them properly...

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    • 19. At 04:31am on 21 Dec 2011, MAA wrote:

      I like to receive presents from people but i like to be useful presents such computer, car, or if i can receive some mony and i will buy what i need.

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    • 20. At 04:33am on 21 Dec 2011, JSB wrote:

      I perfer to give present friend rather than recieving.
      I am happy when he is happy because of present.

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    • 21. At 04:45am on 21 Dec 2011, Sunny wrote:

      In my opinion, I prefer getting than receiving. It's truly interesting to pick some presents which suited for your family or friends. However, I also feel that it waste if you just buy a gift which is not suited for your family or friends.

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    • 22. At 11:10am on 21 Dec 2011, doseizetheday wrote:

      In my case, I definately prefer receiving to giving a present for whoever to. Cuase I don't know what they want to get as a gift and preparing itself is quite hard work for me. I feel happy when they get my present though.

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    • 23. At 2:08pm on 21 Dec 2011, Italianfan91 wrote:

      I like receiving to giving a present, because I can't choose the presents for my family and friends!

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    • 24. At 2:23pm on 21 Dec 2011, Shalu wrote:

      Yes it is best to give or receive presents.It is a way to express our love to them. To give present to others shows our affection to them. It feels nice to them. They feel good and smiling.
      To receive present also a nice feeling. It shows others love to us. But it doesn't mean that it is only way to measure the others love.
      I also received so many gifts from others and it really a nice feeling that others think about you and they mean you and same feeling we can see on others face when we give them gifts.

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    • 25. At 4:36pm on 21 Dec 2011, Lisakim wrote:

      In my opinion, both giving presents and receiving presents are pleasant.
      Most people say they prefer giving to receiving presents because they can see the smile on the person’s face who receives their presents. Yeah, we can get pleasure and satisfaction from our kindness which may make our life more meaningful. Simultaneously, I think there will be no people who feel sad or unhappy after receiving presents from others except receiving unsuitable ones.
      First of all, to give presents is a way to express our mind such as gratefulness, blessing, congratulations, celebrating etc. It’s one of the ways to interact each other as long as the financial condition allows. However, we also have to be considerate about the value of the presents. If not, it will increase the other side’s burden. And the most important is that if you wanna give presents to anyone, you must be sincere with purely blessing mind.
      Second, to receive and accept presents is also another way to express thanks and respect to the other side’s sincerity. What’s more, it is impolite to be angry or unhappy because of unsuitable presents you’ve received. To keep grateful heart is the most significant. Of course, it’s up to you whether to give presents in return or not.
      Anyway, Christmas is coming as well as new year. Let’s bless each other’s happiness!

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    • 26. At 5:23pm on 21 Dec 2011, JoyceTsai wrote:

      Neither of two options is good choice. Presents do not always bring long-tern happiness, and sometimes the presents others gave us may not fit our real need. On the contrary, we probably contribute the burden of environment. We can have a better way to express our love and regard since it is so convenient to exchange our emotion via email, phone call, or facebook, etc. A invisible present is superior to a visible one.

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    • 27. At 6:31pm on 21 Dec 2011, cindy_ wrote:

      I'm also more interested in giving presents than receiving. I think it's a way to show someone how much I appreciate and know him/her. I mean, even though I know someone like enjoy receiving jewelry, I prefer offering something more personal like books or films, and obviously something I can afford.
      Actually, I'm trying to not paying too much attention to the reaction, because sometimes you can feel a little disappointed about a reserved smile or having just a "thanks" back. Obviously, if someone is touched by my present, I am glad to.

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    • 28. At 04:50am on 22 Dec 2011, morizo wrote:

      I like giving a present, because I want to see happy face. I en joy to choose a present. If I received a present, I am shy.

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    • 29. At 1:46pm on 22 Dec 2011, koyj0309 wrote:

      I spent whole day for Christmas presents shopping today. I can say giving gifts is definitely worthy when thingking receiver`s happy faces, but also it is labour job, especially for the Christmas season.

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    • 30. At 3:03pm on 22 Dec 2011, Juan wrote:

      Depend of needs you have. If you´re lucky and your basic needs are completely, maybe the best is give gift to other than need it. But if you need something it´s nice to receive a gift.

      I think this season (cristhmas season) is an excuse to have the opportunity to give them to others gifts and generosity signs.

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    • 31. At 3:34pm on 22 Dec 2011, Rauf wrote:

      Hi all and Merry Christmas! I like present both and receive gifts. But i like DYI presents. That kind of presents show your actual love, regard and attention. If you make any gift by yourself you can get satisfaction during the process of making and when you present this gift as well :). just try it!

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    • 32. At 4:12pm on 22 Dec 2011, KennethNguyen94 wrote:

      Giving gifts also means giving others your love and care. And when you share your love, the fact is that you will receive even more. That's the most rewarding gift in exchange to what you give away.

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    • 33. At 6:10pm on 22 Dec 2011, basak wrote:

      I think both giving presents and receiving presents make people happy.Personally,giving presents makes you and the one whom you bought a present happy but receiving presents just makes you happy unless the person who gives you a present is happy. To sum up,we always give and receive presents but the point is to realise how important a present is and being happy!

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    • 34. At 6:41pm on 22 Dec 2011, Julia wrote:

      Hello, everyone. New Year's coming...
      And in my opinion, as our Russian proverb says - Not the gift is important, but attention. Only imagine what a pleasure would it be for your relatives to give any unexpected surprises, and it might be not only gifts, but jokes, games, suvenirs... I like to bring celebrating mood in our house. If we are talking about serious presents for the birthday then the etiquet allows to ask the closest ones to ask about. For unknown person I usually give money. Festivals are funny!

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    • 35. At 9:50pm on 22 Dec 2011, Ewcia wrote:

      I prefer to give gifts, especially the gifts which are made by me.
      Receiving gifts is also nice.
      As a gift I would like to receive a ticket to my friends’ country, Egypt where I will spend a lot of time discovering their culture, customs and language…
      But the greatest gift to the people all over the world would be a global peace, without war and hatred…

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    • 36. At 02:14am on 23 Dec 2011, Face wrote:

      I think that giving is more interesting than receiving. The enjoyment of receiving gift is only in a moment. However, giving gift is like a happy journal!

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    • 37. At 02:22am on 23 Dec 2011, Teddy wrote:

      i like giving presents and receiving one also. like one guy said, pick sth that i think pretty and funny. I like to see their face when received my present. i often have funny ideas in this act. Beside sweet sayings, meaningful presents are useful to keep our relations!
      Merry Xmas to all!

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    • 38. At 5:45pm on 23 Dec 2011, castleontheriver wrote:

      I think you should give gifts and not as much wait to receive them, although this I am not used to doing...

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    • 39. At 05:56am on 24 Dec 2011, jd wrote:

      what does means pulled out of their closed?

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    • 40. At 09:43am on 24 Dec 2011, FaaFaale wrote:

      I Don't like to take Paresents and even give it to somebody else coz I don't have a Girl friend and i have ner see it....... Iam waiting the day I will see having a relationship....................
      my mind is lack of love and am looking for somaone now then I will give a paresent.

      Fafale from Somalia

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    • 41. At 06:24am on 25 Dec 2011, junry wrote:

      When I was a kid, I used to receive gifts from my godparents and relatives. I felt ecstatic each time I received gifts. I think, that's just normal for a kid. Now that I am fully-grown up, I can still appreciate things no matter how little it is,especially when it is given heartily. For me, receiving gifts is as exciting as giving gifts. It's just how people value the things that they receive and the intentions they have when they give gifts to others that matter. After all, the essence of giving is not the price of the gift that you give to someone, it is the thought that counts.

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    • 42. At 02:26am on 26 Dec 2011, Ethan_Xu wrote:

      In China,Spring Festival is the most interesting holiday. it is as same as th Christmas in UK.
      I think the best gift is depend on what you really need and the kindness heart of the people who send you the gift.

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    • 43. At 3:49pm on 27 Dec 2011, DESI wrote:

      For me is difficult every time to chose a present for somebody, even close person like my husband. He is never pleased and I always think that my choice will be wrong . I prefer to go shopping with him, and then he can say me what he wants.
      I don't have any pretensions about my presents, for me more important it's the gesture.

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    • 44. At 12:27pm on 29 Dec 2011, salih wrote:

      From my viewpoint, I love more giving present than the receiving. I feel much better when I give present for someone. Of course it can change person to person, it is individual thing. Giving and receiving present is beneficial for maintaining lovely community.Especially some special days, people generally expect present, especially if you're a women. Such as birthday, anniversary, new year, etc.

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    • 45. At 11:21pm on 29 Dec 2011, RominaOV wrote:

      im not good choosing present... always have some doubts and just do not know what would be the perfect gift for that person! but I love doing that, like to see the happines in that persoooon :D

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    • 46. At 11:44pm on 02 Jan 2012, tahira wrote:

      I think I dont have to give presents my friends or familiy who I really love because they know that we don t have to give presents just for making the relationship stronger or sth like that...
      I think its enough when you help your friends when they are in need...only that reaction shows that your friends are important for you...therefore I think giving presents is just a show and often it brings many problems when your friend isn t satisfied with the present...furthermore its waste of money specially at christmas were almost everybody just seeks after the presents and not after the message which christmas infact preaches...its important to know what happened at that they? And why we do celebrate Christmas? I think that event is a symbol for the love to Jesus Christ and God and the birth of the Jesus...

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    • 47. At 12:27pm on 03 Jan 2012, svetlana wrote:

      I like giving presents to my friends and relatives more then receiving the presents from them. I really enjoy it. It is really good feeling to see surprised faces when they receive something they wanted and needed, because I`m a person who listen my friends and their needs too. I don`t give gifts only for the special days (birthdays, New Years, anniversaries, etc.), but also for no reason. It`s usually a trifle, but interesting and curious one. Sometimes it is not a thing. It can be, for example, a e-card that is going to make their faces smiling and cheer them up.

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    • 48. At 04:00am on 04 Jan 2012, choyang1ho wrote:

      I think that both of them, giving and receiving present, are good to giver and receiver. Because I am usually happy to watch reaction through joy and astonishement from the reciever's when they got present but also I expect to receiving back present too even though I gave them present for nothing. I believe that it would be more heplfull to strengthen our relationship.

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    • 49. At 11:47am on 04 Jan 2012, Sue wrote:

      I think giving a gift to someone is a thing that always make me headache.Beacuse I don't know what they want.I like to receive gifts from my parents or my friends.When I get a give that really make me feel exciting:).

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    • 50. At 11:44am on 08 Jan 2012, Luvlienguyen wrote:

      In my case, I like Christmas very much. With a gift, I can see the most beautiful smile in my deer. I also am very happy when there are many people think that I am their deer. :) BBC Learning English says: I think you meant to write "dear"

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    • 51. At 11:13pm on 17 Jan 2012, d6ominika wrote:

      Actually i'm terrible at buying present causes i always have some problems with chosing them. I can't decide what to buy or i have just no imagination. But definitely i prefer to give presents and see reactions of people I love. I don't remember myself being satisfied with recieved gift and i'm not that dainty!

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    • 52. At 5:23pm on 20 Jan 2012, Luwia wrote:

      Receive or to reminded me Gifts of Magi by O'Henry) both of course,but depends on your attitude towards present,when you do sincere,with love and care and receive with the same attitude it is the best present ever. Even nice words from deep inside and love can be the best)))

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    • 53. At 1:03pm on 20 Feb 2012, rasel wrote:

      I love Christmas tree and day as well. I like celebrating Christmas day with giving gifts to my nearest friends. It is best time for me to keep in touch with my girlfriend who is very keen to love me. I always used to keep a gift with my family members throughout the whole day enjoying to laugh, dancing and kidding. I love to give gifts such as love card, red rose and diary. But I am not usual to take gift because I am not available in the many celebrations day.

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    • 54. At 1:29pm on 21 Feb 2012, leonglee wrote:

      Christmas it is romantic day every years, I like celebrating Christmas with giving gifts to all my close friends and drink at night of the day and chase after girls.What is more i will countdown at the party and enjoyed the fireworks.This is awesome festive.

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