5 non-fiction podcast miniseries to get stuck into (that aren’t news or true crime)

Lauren Heskin

Sunday baking: Pecan cinnamon rolls

Meg Walker

Sofia Vergara finally wins battle with ex over embryos

Jennifer McShane

4 comfy yet chic outfit ideas to get you ready for a post-lockdown world

Edaein OConnell

8 predictions for the 2021 Best Picture Oscar nominations

Jennifer McShane

This terraced home in Donnybrook is on the market for €1.45 million

Megan Burns

Alice Ward on her Irish surf film featuring the female surfers who call our wild...

Lauren Heskin

‘They won’t stop until she miscarries’: Chrissy Teigen is right to defend Meghan Markle

Jennifer McShane

5 ingenious small space design ideas inspired by real homes

Lauren Heskin

Image / Editorial

The batsh*t crazy politics of the family Kris Kindle

by Sophie White
17th Dec 2019

The Family Kris Kindle is a money-saver but Sophie White reckons the mental-distress incurred far outweighs any potential economic benefits

The arguments on the email thread begin before the names have even been drawn.

“We’re doing another Family Kris Kindle,” my cousin’s email begins.

To which my other cousin replies:

“I think you’ll find it’s actually Kris Kringle, there luv.”


The inclusion of ‘there, luv’ really beautifully underscored the condescension and, in terms of sibling conflict, was a truly impressive power play. However, it did mean that the thread was then completely derailed, diverted into the kind of rousing, two-hander of an argument families specialise in, particularly around Christmas. Argument A centred around ‘Kringle’ versus ‘Kindle’ while Argument B existed in the slightly more abstract realm of: “Why do you always have to be such a b*tch about everything?”

After a few years spent navigating an increasingly volatile web of email threads such as this one, I’ve seriously begun to reconsider the supposed advantages of the annual Family Kris Kindle (I’m firmly in the Kindle camp as you can see).

Pros and cons

Are the pros really outweighing the cons?


One gift to buy.


That’s a lot of pressure to get that one, single gift spot on.


Less mental energy expended on who wants what.


Untold mental energy sapped by petty back and forths on the email thread or WhatsApp group.




Money-saving, yes. But at what cost to your sanity?


Our family Kris Kindle has been marred with controversy over the years. There is always mistrust around the allocation of names, for example. And I can confirm that the others are correct to be suspicious. My husband takes care of this aspect of proceedings with the considered and highly scientific approach of first asking me who I want to get in Kris Kindle, then deciding who he wants to get in Kris Kindle and then divvying up the rest, paying careful heed to any grudges he’s been harbouring throughout the past year – who owes him money or who’s been pissing him off – and ensuring they get the raw deal in terms of who to buy for.

The budget is pretty much ALWAYS ignored which, personally, drives me insane.

“Let’s do twenty-is-plenty?” I open the bidding low, because, ya know, mouths to feed and what-not.

“You can’t get ANYTHING for less than €50!” exclaims my homeowner, bought-in-2012 cousin with no dependents. “I say fifty-is-nifty,” she adds.

“Of course you do,” I think, my eyes narrowed, she’s got her eye on a Jo Malone candle natch.

“Let just round it off to an even €100?” ventures my aunt. “A hundred is splendid?” She tries for the rhyme and fails.

Even with an amount decided upon, all of them invariably wander off completely ignoring the figure, in favour of doing whatever the hell they want. Every year, this leads to an awkward disparity in terms of the quality of gifts exchanged. I try to explain but it’s futile.


My father-in-law, I’m fairly convinced, is only aware of the existence of one shop (Brown Thomas) and doesn’t really examine price tags, so whomsoever should be on the receiving end of his generosity is guaranteed to score big. Meanwhile, my cousin is a blogger and usually repurposes the less glam swag she acquires throughout the year into a box of randomness for her target – think sample bottles of perfumes released (unleashed) on the market by popular English YouTubers and sachets of diet tea of the kind one might receive free with a magazine or in the swag bag at a fancy event.

I would try to manipulate the system (aka my husband) to ensure that my father-in-law –a frequenter of BTs – gets my name in the ‘draw’ but we’ve discussed this at length and decided it may arouse even further questions about the allocation methods. (This article could be pretty damning evidence, too…)

Another method we’ve attempted to make the FKK a bit easier was started by my very practical brother-in-law, who suggested we all say what we’d like for Christmas so that everyone gets something they “actually like.”

Was that shade for the cookbook and pestle and mortar I got him last year? My paranoid, driven-mad-by-so-much-contact-with-my-family mind immediately sprang into action.

Gift comparisons

On Christmas Day, the Kris Kindle in-fighting and back-stabbing invariably reaches a crescendo that even a carb-coma cannot assuage. Gift comparisons abound and often proceedings descend into a bartering session.

“How about you give me your Jo Malone candle and in exchange you can have my bathrobe and slippers set, and I’ll do the dishes AND, wait for it I’ll throw in this bottle of Zoella Eau De Bullsh*t.”

That kind of thing.

I have a sneaking suspicion that we are all slightly missing the point of Christmas, though at least all the mind games and sabotage is bringing us together, physically at least if not emotionally, and really that’s probably all that we can hope to achieve with our families at this time of year.

Read more: Here is the science behind those after-dinner Christmas naps

Read more: How to find the balance between the magic and the manic this Christmas

Read more: Putting up the Christmas tree with kids: A parent’s survival guide

Also Read

Has society become more tolerant of the idea of dating interracially?
Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

With diversity on the rise, what struggles do interracial couples continue to face today? Filomena Kaguako speaks to three couples about their experiences.

By Filomena Kaguako

essay collections
6 brilliant essay collections for when you can’t commit to a whole book

Time these days is a contradiction.  Slow-moving, yet somehow passing...

By Jennifer McShane

Graham Norton
‘People were too busy ordering bottles of brandy or finding out who had the cocaine’: Graham Norton on the Christmases he’d much rather forget

Chatshow host Graham Norton worked as a waiter when he...

By Graham Norton

Christmas trifle
Avoca has shared the recipe for their decadent Christmas trifle and we’re digging in

No festive spread is complete without a traditional Christmas trifle...


Eclipsed: The powerful, all-female play exposing a Magdalene Laundry you need to see

‘Eclipsed’ director Kate Canning told Jennifer McShane of the challenges...

By Jennifer McShane

The trickle of information from the Government on restrictions has made a grim situation so much worse

By Amanda Cassidy

GoFundMe CEO: ‘Ireland is the most generous nation in the world’

These days, it’s easier than ever to give something back....

By Jennifer McShane

9 beautiful Champagne glasses to order in time for NYE

Ring in the New Year (and bid a welcome adieu...

By Lauren Heskin