Lately: The Economics of Giving

On the final run down to Christmas 2012, and possibly the last post for the year (given my record lately!), I thought I’d share a good commentary on gift giving I read lately… Enjoy.

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“With just one week till Christmas … we are reminding ourselves of the gift that we have been given at the first Christmas.

Gifts are synonymous with Christmas. Little wonder when the vast majority of most retail profits are made at this time of year! The Australian National Retailers Association is forecasting that Australians will spend $32 billion this season, or more than $1,400 each. There is much discussion about giving and the art of giving gifts. Economists discuss the loss that gift giving is to the community. Studies show that those who receive a gift value it less than the money spent on it. That is poor economics, they claim. There is the seemingly endless list of who to buy presents for, the hard choices of where to draw the line, who gets a gift and who doesn’t and that person who is impossible to buy for! Do you buy a gift for everyone or is it OK to give a gift card or even cash so that they get what they want?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

All of this spending and activity around the birth of Jesus is odd when you think of the first Christmas. Jesus, born in a “nowhere” village in the backblocks of Palestine, born to a teenage couple, and his parentage viewed by some in the community as suspect. This though was the birth of the King of the world and the King to which magi (wise men) from the east came bearing gifts. Here is the basis of the tradition of gift-giving at Christmas – to follow their example and give gifts to those we love.

Yet it may be better to be reminded that it is the gift we receive from Jesus that is more significant – the gift of forgiveness, new life and a fresh start. If you’ve never stuffed up or failed others, it will mean little but if you have, those three words are a priceless gift.

All the best as you buy gifts for those you love and in the midst of all this activity, remember the gift of Jesus for you. Merry Christmas from all of us at Olive Tree Media.”

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Thanks to Karl Faase from Olive Tree Media for the insight.

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