It’s that time of year again when I give my Amazon account a damned good thrashing whilst avoiding physical shops. 'Tis the season to spend lashings of cash on presents no one wants or needs, but everyone expects, before needlessly wrapping and handing them over safe in the knowledge that you gave up trying to choose something they would like, but are past caring now anyway.

At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful oik, it's an activity that few of us get right. The excitement and wonder of gifts received diminishes rapidly as you progress through the years. I would hazard a guess that I will receive a Lynx boxset, which I don’t use as it stings upon contact with flesh, a multi-pack of polyester socks that I won’t wear as I’m a cotton type of guy and a comedy tie that will be ceremonially burnt in the chiminea.

We are all at it, excited and pleased that someone has thought enough of us to buy us a gift as if there were a deity residing in the shires. We smile and feign interest, as we explain, through gritted teeth, just how our lives will change now that the rust-proof sink tidy is now in our life before putting it in the present box to upcycle next year. Next year comes and you go into the unwanted present box, forget who gave you it originally and it stays for another year. Eventually you give up, take the label off and use the sink tidy, before realising what you have been missing and rue the day you made a snap judgement as to its apparent usefulness.

Last year, we stayed at my Dad’s house. Being a nosy sort, I opened his huge bedroom cupboard and was stunned to see every single Christmas and birthday present I had given him over the past decade staring back at me, still fully labelled. It’s really hard to choose a gift for anyone in their 70s, not interested in fashion, stuck in their ways and with a firm allegiance only to Bob Dylan and the Traveling Wilburys, so the options are limited. Thankfully mother is an Ed Sheeran and Westlife fan, so there is generally a go-to Christmas gift.

I know couples who no longer bother with the procession and I begrudgingly admire their lack of effort. Their logic is sound: why buy each other something neither of us want? I always thought that was as unromantic as putting some cash in an envelope, as my parents used to do. Mother would open her £50 cash present and he would do likewise. It seemed pointless at the time, but would afford the opportunity for her to go and buy that new sink tidy she desired.

Even less romantic than the cash in the envelope is the gift card. There are tens of thousands of shops and retail outlets in the UK. Why on earth would anyone think it a bright idea to swap easily transferable cash into a voucher that can only be spent in one shop? I receive such a card every year for M&S. I have had the reason for this explained to me: "It’s because you live near one". I also live near to a scuba diving shop and hairdressers and frequent neither. So, come new year, I am forced against my will to spend the M&S voucher as I barge my way through the corduroy wearing gentlemen and the neckerchief-bedecked ladies to purchase a pair of moccasins to give to my father next Christmas, which I know he will keep in his cupboard until they rot.

It’s a game and a not very enjoyable one at that, hence my migration to online purchasing only. Sitting drinking a coffee in your front room as you click ‘order’ on that amusingly shaped screwdriver known as the ‘Black and Pecker’ as your contribution to the office secret Santa can be joyous.

Despite my protestations, I adore Christmas and get to wear my new Delboy PJ’s at five o'clock in the morning as I watch the kids eagerly rip open their gifts with glee, before we settle down to a bacon sarnie and a rerun of Digby: The Biggest Dog in the World. The smell of roasted turkey wafts through the hallway, setting off the smoke alarm for the umpteenth time as you search for the AAA batteries you forgot to replenish.

Christmas really is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a domestic dream we wouldn’t change for the world. I wish you all an extremely peaceful Yuletide and if I don’t see you in the New Year, I’ll catch you in the slipper section in Marks and Sparks on January 4.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney