Depending on how long you’ve been together, the price of Christmas gifts between Singaporean couples changes over time.
We know you’re going to say: this is so materialistic, it’s the thought that counts, and so on. Sure, okay, we agree. But you can see what stage a relationship has entered by the way the gift changes, just like you can see it from where the dates take place.
Here’s how it works:
The Rule of Diminishing Christmas Gifts
The price of Christmas gifts bought for your partner follow a parabolic curve.
When you are dating, the price of tends to be high for two to three consecutive years. After that, the longer you have known your partner, the cheaper the gift tends to become (even if the love remains).
There are occasional erratic spikes, but the general pattern is observable in most relationships. Based on a typical relationship, the price points are:
$150 to $300
This is when you have a crush, or someone you are totally into has just gone out with you a few times. When Christmas is around the corner, you will toy with the idea of an awkwardly expensive gift.
You want to express your affection, but will it come off as desperation? Will it make your partner feel awkward?
We will save you the trouble and tell you right now, yes. Yes it will make your partner feel awkward. You should come to your senses and buy something cheaper, but half of you will ignore our advice.
The gift will be packaged at an artisanal level.
$200 to $1,500
This is a “first year of dating” level gift. It may be an iPad or a luxury bag. What’s money, compared to the happiness of your significant other? At this stage, it’s just one of the many big romantic gestures you’re making.
The gift will have been properly wrapped, with a bow and everything.
$150 to $200
This is during the second year of dating, or possibly the third. It’s still a special occasion, but now both of you will start to agree on limits. If you spend all the money on Christmas, the next restaurant you’ll both be visiting is McDonald’s, and then only if you have coupons.
For the first time, you start to think “Wow, that’s really expensive” before buying.
The gift comes in whatever gift wrap the store provides.
$80 to $100
Often the gift range of newly married couples. Both sides hesitate to hit three digits, because you’re still paying the bill for that wedding. Also, facing your first mortgage. Alternatively, this is the price range of gifts with a live-in Significant Other.
At this point, you will start to hear the “next time don’t waste money” argument. Because someone has to limit the damage to your joint finances. Gifts start to be of a more practical bent, like a hair dryer instead of a new Pandora charm.
The gift comes in a nice Merry Christmas paper bag.
$30 to $50
This is when you’ve been together for a while. At this point, the gift is primarily functional. It’s not “that dress you love so much”, it’s more “Here’s that expensive shampoo for the shower, because I use it too.”
Alternatively, it will be a gift that both of you use at once, like dinner at a place your partner really likes.
The gift is usually not wrapped, or just in the store’s plastic bag.
This is about five years in.
You two have spent enough buying Christmas presents for all your collective friends and relatives. You have each other’s company, and that’s enough (but still not enough for the electricity bill).
Negative $50 to $100
You’ve been together seven years or more, and are almost definitely married. The amount is negative at this point, because you are allowed to spend $50 to $100 on yourself. With minimal complaining from your spouse.
The gift comes out of the Sheng Siong plastic bag you used to hide it in, because you probably bought something more expensive than you said you would.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.