Taking on a festive role, at this time of year, involves making a list of those you really 'need' to gift. Basically Thank YOU packages for those who persevere with our offspring and their ludicrous spelling, others who put our homes back together after an overly-sociable weekend or he who delivers weekend newspapers when none of my housemates want to walk down the road in their PJs. But, what I'll now call tactical giving, is reaching an all-time peak... mostly because our gifting competitors are ensuring the how to show your appreciation bar is unbearably high.

The way I see it, there's an opt IN or opt OUT tick box system going . If I opt in, I'm going to end up spending more on the form teachers, the music teachers, our drycleaners (not my idea, His) than I will do on my nearest/dearest – because, in all honestly, Father Christmas only half heartedly drops by our gaff on the eve of the turkey-eating marathon. Plus, I'd need to immediately buy shares in Jo Malone, Space NK or even setting up an affiliate marketing programme with JohnLewis.com to enter this gift-rat-race.

Opting out has its own set of risks: will the teachers think I'm only semi-grateful? Or will I look like the meanest, tightest, not in the least bit involved mum if I simply fling a bottle of something strong their direction – in exchange of their detailed school report and exhausted faces?

So I've decided that my logic is to be instinctive and personal. Gifting doesn't need to be excessive. In fact, the more excessive, the more uncomfortable so while the most curious of mothers – laden with more gifts than Santa – totter up to the school gates, I'll hide behind their reindeer and watch the teachers squirm.