Christmas presents are a ”zero-sum” game, as people usually swap gifts of similar value. Look at it as a simple equation:

David gives Nick a £40 blue tie for Christmas; Nick gives David a pair of £40 designer orange socks.

The net result … Nick has spent £40 and got a blue tie; David has spent £40 and got orange socks.

Effectively, you pay to receive someone else’s choice of object. Fine if people have wealth, but consider Janet and John. Financially, everything’s bonzer for her, so she decides, generously, to buy gifts for all and sundry. In her cousin John’s case, it’s a pair of £25 funky cufflinks. Yet he’s skint, in debt, and has three kids – but pride obliges him to buy her something of equal value.