Thursday, 28 November 2013

Dear Harvey Nics...

Dear Harvey Nics

One of my friends posted your advert on her Facebook page yesterday. You know the one. Promoting your range of oh so hilarious 'Sorry I spent it on Myself' range of gifts.

May be I've lost my sense of humour. I hear that you "... wanted to have a bit of fun and remind people that they shouldn't forget to spoil themselves this Christmas". So you encourage us to give our nearest and dearest elastic bands ("but elastic bands from Harvey Nicols, Dad"), paper clips, toothpicks, a plug, while we fritter away our cash on a gorgeous dress, some killer heels, a handbag (all no doubt available in your hallowed, and no doubt uber-tastefully decorated Christmas gift halls )

 Don't you think we as a race are collectively selfish enough already? It's not just about the money either - the advert suggests, whether tongue in cheek or otherwise, that it's OK to shatter the dreams of our nearest and dearest in pursuit of something material that we really want - and then to blow a raspberry at them in the process.

I find buying presents for people hard enough anyway, trying to choose something appropriate and wanted, and I'd be the first to own up to thinking dark thoughts about the whole Christmas overspend frenzy, while simultaneously handing over the card to pay for many of things that I always doubt are the right thing, when I have holes in my pants (and not in a sexy way). But Christmas is about giving - whether you have a faith that supports that or otherwise - and it doesn't have to be financial. 

If you wanted to spend the money on yourself, there are plenty of other ways you could give that would allow you to do that without rubbing people's nose in it - things they might really want. No doubt if you've got the cash for a Lanvin dress, there's some fairly high powered careers, and perhaps not much in the way of family time going on in the background. Rather than give your kid a plug, why not give him a whole day of you? No iPhone, no laptop, no nanny/childminder/boarding school. It would cost even less than the plug and you'd still be able to have your dress. Rather than give your gran paperclips, why not dig her garden for her, go and see her a little more, talk to her. Rather than give your boyfriend toothpicks, I can think of several things you could give him that wouldn't cost anything, and would put a smile on his face for days, rather than leaving a bitter taste in his mouth (although there might be a bitter taste in yours if you get what I'm on about).

Alternatively, you could do something even more useful with the money - if you're really going to spend a grand on a handbag (as I understand the Givenchy bag in the advert costs - I didn't know such things existed) why not buy people 'Good Gifts' - there are plenty of charity catalogues which give you the opportunity to make donations for specific, useful, practical things in the name of a gift for someone else - and they are really imaginative: from wild flower meadows and hedgerows to help preserve the English countryside to more humanitarian aid - goats for peace, wheelbarrow ambulances. Or just give the money you would have spent on the dress or the bag to a really deserving cause, rather than your wardrobe. 

Because, Harvey Nics, may be I'm being controversial, but do I really need a new dress? No, I don't, although granted the idea is a nice one for a moment. And would I really feel like I'd spoiled myself if I did blow the savings? Actually, probably not. I doubt I'm alone in thinking that what would really be involved in 'spoiling myself' would be the things that money can't buy - certainly not in Harvey Nics. I'd like some time and some sleep. Then I'd like a walk on a beach with the Husband, the kids and the dog. Give me that, and I tell you, I'd be happy as anything.

So when you've got that range sorted, the one that puts a warm glow into my heart instead of adding a little more to the cold hard place that this world is turning into, may be I'll come a shopping.




  1. LOVE this Sally and I'm right with you. I wrote about this in my Xmas column too because as much as I love shiny stuff this is not the stuff that matters. I read a quote about progression through consumerism (at whatever cost) taking over from progression through education recently and this makes me sad. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Sarah - it actually really upset me watching the advert - it just seemed to be really hard and actually quite cruel. I just don't understand is why it's OK to take this approach, to celebrate this attitude. I had a look at the harvey nic's twitter feed and there is a load of 'oh wow this is great' going on about the add. May be I missed the point but it just makes me want to cry.

  2. Great letter Sally - lots of very good points made!
    Take care

  3. I actually bloody hate shopping, and you make so many good points here. Love the giving your time to your children for the day too, so much more valuable! :)

    1. :-) - I hate shopping too - may be that's part of why I hate this.

  4. Well said RJ. I do try and avoid Christmas ads where at all possible. They are just so cynical it makes me rant. You can't put a price on the soul-feeding stuff like a good nap and spending time with people you love. Harvey Nics can jog on!

  5. LOVE this - it's so easy to allow yourself to become caught up in the commercial hype


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