AUTHOR Alexander McCall Smith has advised Scots sitting on a pile of unwanted Christmas presents that it is acceptable to get rid of them – but wait until January 25.
The creator of No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency took to Twitter to discuss with his followers what to do with unwelcome gifts.
Online auction sites such as eBay were awash on Christmas Day with thousands of new listings for unpopular presents.
In a series of Tweets on Christmas Eve, McCall Smith offered his followers a moral way out of the problem.
The 63-year-old multi-million-selling writer wrote: “Christmas brings a major moral problem: what to do with unwanted gifts.
“Initial reaction: one must pretend to like them. Thank you so much. That, of course, is a lie: you don’t like the present.
“But it is a justifiable lie. An insincerity, perhaps, rather than a lie. Then what?
The Edinburgh-bsed author added: “You don’t have to keep the present for ever, but you should not give it away immediately. Certainly not on Boxing Day.
“January 25th is about right. Thereafter the unwanted present may be disposed of, preferably given away. If sold, proceeds to charity.
“Never give the present back to the donor. Never say “I’ve got one already”. Never ask: “What does it do?
“Terrible for authors to go to second hand book store and find dedicated books for sale: e.g. ‘For my great friend X’. Unappreciative X!”
But his advice provoked a spirited response from some of his 5,387 followers.
Kit Sweetman said: “Well if authors give their own works as christmas presents they deserve to be mortified in second hand book stores.”
McCall Smith’s advice comes as listings websites Gumtree revealed £2.4million worth of unwanted presents were given this year.
Research by the website found the most unpopular gift was clothing, with 42 per cent saying they had to pretend to like an unsightly garment.
A fifth of respondents said the worst present-giver was their mother.
But only a tenth said they would confess to not liking the present and asking for a receipt to get something else.