Don’t we all feel pretty darn proud of ourselves when we can give a friend the truly perfect present? Who doesn’t just love that inner glow as their faces light up and you can metaphorically pat yourself on the back in the knowledge that this time you’ve got it spot on! Yet there seem to be a million obstacles standing in our way. I may have the perfect present in mind for a particular friend, but once I’ve added into the mental equation my student state of poverty, the finite nature of options in the local shops and my irritating lack of time, the prospect of my perfect present fantasy is shattered. Present buying seems like a small chore; something that can be slotted in during the short half hour slot between my 11 o’clock lecture and lunch at half twelve, but should it be? Everyone thinks that any present, however swiftly and cheaply picked up, is better than giving no present. I’m not so sure.

I speak from the heart here. Take my Christmas this year: my mother has a very large family and although this used to mean that I got loads of pressies, this year we decided to do a ‘family secret Santa’ to make it easier for everyone. You buy one present, you receive one present and the essence lies in putting time and personal thought into the one present you are responsible for. How do you think I felt then, when I opened my one present to reveal a puke coloured water proof satchel with a strap made out of the sort of material you pull on the side of a life jacket to tighten it up! Actually the whole thing was kind of like a bag shaped life jacket. We’ve all been there – that sinking feeling followed by the embarrassed flushes as you exclaim how great it is and how grateful you are, when really you’re not only bitterly disappointed but convinced your disappointment is conspicuous. There’s just nothing pretty about that sort of situation; it really is the definition of cringe for everyone there.

So what morals can we draw from this my friends? Alright, you might be rushed and skint and lacking in ideas, but persistence is the essence. If the light bulbs really aren’t clicking don’t just pick up something rubbish, save everyone the embarrassment and bide your time – trust me, it’s worth it!