Real French Conversation about Christmas Gifts (FR/EN Subs)

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Real French Conversation about Christmas Gifts (FR/EN Subs)

Transcript of the video

Christmas is just a few days away. Are you more the type to do your Christmas shopping well in advance or to buy last-minute gifts?

Welcome to another French conversation video. Today, with Mathieu, whom you now know very well, we're going to talk about Christmas presents.

I've prepared seven questions about Christmas presents and we're going to discuss them together. As you'll also see, this video is going to be very rich in vocabulary, because the theme of gifts actually allows us to talk about a lot of things.

As usual, you can download the free vocabulary sheet for this video to review all the words we're going to look at.

Mathieu, the first question, I know we'll agree, but I'm not sure everyone will. Is it okay to offer second-hand gifts?

Seconde main is second-hand gifts.

Second-hand gifts, exactly.

Yes, we can. As long as the gift is in very good condition.

Yes, of course.

I know, for example, I bought a gift, even several second-hand gifts, like iPhones. You can get them a little cheaper second-hand. If they're in good condition, if the battery isn't too worn, if there aren't any scratches, all that, I don't see any problem in buying an iPhone like that and giving it to people.

I agree with you, especially as it allows you to offer gifts that you probably couldn't buy if you bought them new. I don't even know how much an iPhone costs now, maybe €1,200?


But second-hand, you can get it for half the price. It's still a very, very nice gift, but it would be impossible to buy it new. I think it's the same for anything that costs more. But then, I think some people get offended if you give them something second-hand.

Yes, it must exist.

I think. But also, I'm really convinced that more and more, even for example, it's true that for books, there's not necessarily any reason to buy it new if you haven't found it in a second-hand bookshop. I think that if it's in perfect condition, it's also very good to offer it second-hand, even if it's more ecological.

And I know that... In my circle of friends, there are people who can also be sensitive to this, to say to themselves. It's true that, in addition, it doesn't recreate consumption. So yes, I'm all for it. After that, of course, there are some things I wouldn't buy second-hand shoes from someone.

In fact, if you... If I, for example, buy something for myself second-hand, I won't buy shoes, for example, I won't buy a bed or a mattress.

You're not going to give someone a used mattress for Christmas.

I won't buy... Yes, things like that, shoes, it's a bit...

For example, for bags, I find that you can also get good deals on second-hand bags. There are bag brands where new bags can cost €400 and second-hand bags can cost €200.

It's still a very nice gift, but it's true that it can make people happy. It's the same debate about... I know I've taken advantage of the sales to buy gifts for friends, including clothes that cost maybe, I don't know, a sweater that normally cost €80.

It was €40 during the sales. I'd already taken advantage of it and it's true that I felt a little embarrassed. I thought "oh, I'm buying a present...".

But in fact, the object is identical and I certainly wouldn't have paid such a sum. I couldn't have bought it new anyway. So I'm obviously in favor.

I'm for it too. If you disagree in the comments, please don't insult us.

Speaking of the Christmas season, I don't know if you're anything like us. It's true that every year, we love this period when we can stay warm with our family and watch movies and TV series.

This year, I'd like you to mix business with pleasure, as we say in French. It means doing something fun and, at the same time, doing something useful. What I'm proposing here is to practice your French.

Today, I'm going to tell you about a platform I really like.

Me, really, I think it's my favorite tool for practicing languages. It's called Lingopie. Lingopie is a streaming platform. It's like the Netflix of language learning. When you're on the platform, you launch a series or a film and you can watch the video with French subtitles.

When you don't know a word, you can click on the subtitle and the word will appear in your language. And best of all, every time you click on a word, it goes into a list of the vocabulary you didn't know.

You'll then be able to revise it in context, but also revise using the games offered by the platform. As I often tell you, learning vocabulary and practicing it in context are essential to long-term progress.

One of the great new features of Lingopie is that the platform now integrates Netflix series. You can watch "Plan cœur", "Dix pour cent" or "Lupin" with all the features I've mentioned.

For Christmas, Lingopie is offering an exceptional deal. I think we can really use the word -70% on the lifetime subscription. All you have to do is follow the link in the video description. I forgot to mention it, but you also get seven days free.

It's a good way of testing out whether this learning method is right for you.

Are you ready for the second question, Mathieu?

Yes, I'm ready.

I hope you're ready too. I'm sure you've already asked yourself. I'm sure you've asked yourself the same question: what gift should I give to someone I don't know very well?

For example, a colleague at work as part of a Secret Santa, or your cousin's new husband, someone you don't know very well, but to whom you nevertheless need to offer a little something. What can we get him, Mathieu? What would you do?

What would I do? For one thing, I'd do a little investigation. Definitely. First of all, I'd go on her Facebook, I'd go on her Instagram and I'd look at the trends, her opinions, how she posts. I'd pay a little attention to that. And then, the safe bet is to buy a little book.

A book? Do you think it's a safe bet?

I think the little book, if it goes with the ideology and with what the person thinks, I think it's fine.

But the problem with a book is that... There's still a good chance that, if you're a bit right about her tastes, she may have already read it.

Yes, you're not wrong. It's true that a book... In fact, when you don't know someone well, you can't buy them a trip, you can't do that sort of thing.

Yes, because there's also another question that arises, which is... what budget do you put aside for someone you don't know very well?

Yeah, that's pretty cheap. Unless it's someone you don't know well, and you want to get to know them better afterwards. But if it's just someone you don't know and who's not that important to you, not too expensive.

What would you say your budget is?

I'd say between... Let's say just under €20.

Yes, I'd say about fifteen euros too. When it's really for... well... just to mark the occasion, to do a little something. 

So you said books were a good gift. It's true that I'm not convinced, but do you have any other ideas for gifts that we could... that we could give to someone we don't know very well?

Yes, it happened to me because at work I had to give a present to someone I didn't know, but I knew this person liked to travel. So I gave her a gift that wasn't very expensive. I think it cost about fifteen euros. It was a kind of scale. It was a little thing you hung on your luggage. You'd lift it up with your luggage and it would tell you if it weighed more or less than 20 kilos.

Yes, that's great. But this is great because I often find that when we buy a gift for someone we don't know very well, we tend to buy something useless. And this is great because you've really gone for something useful.

And it's true that this year I've seen a lot, especially on TikTok, of people making lists of useful little gifts.

And even, for example, kitchen utensils, things you can always use. And it's true that it's good to offer something useful, I think. Often, what I do when I don't know the person very well, and what people give me too, is little chocolates from a chocolatier. Afterwards, I don't like chocolate, but it doesn't matter, I give them to Mathieu.

Yes, I love, love, love chocolate.

At least it makes someone happy. And, for one thing, it's not very common for people not to eat chocolate. And you can always share them with other people if you don't necessarily like them. Otherwise, what else would be nice to give as a gift?

It reminds me of a gift from a friend of yours called Adelaide, who had given stamps that were... Actually, the context was... so we're at work and we had to give gifts to people we didn't know. And Adelaïde, Elisabeth's girlfriend, bumped into the boss of our company.

And so, in France, I don't know if you can also do it in your country, but we can personalize stamps. You can say, here, let this stamp have this image.

So what she had done was put the logo of her company, the boss's company, on stamps and given them to him. They were very happy. It's not a very expensive gift, but it still shows that you've made an effort.

Yes, that's true. Afterwards, I was thinking... You can put a picture of the person, their family, but if you don't know them well, it can look a bit... It can be a bit scary.

It can do... I looked it up on your Facebook. Maybe save it for someone you know. Otherwise, a gift, I find there's a passe-partout, which is always a bit of a pleasure, is a mug, a cup.

It's true that it's easy for someone you don't know very well.

Yes, it's true that... Now I'm thinking about what I said at the beginning about books. It's true that you should avoid gifts if you don't know the person, but where there's an opinion, let's say, about politics or something like that.

That's for sure. On the other hand, I don't know what you think, and I don't know what you think, but I find it much easier to give a gift to a girl or a woman you don't know than to a man.

As a general rule, I find gifts for women easier than gifts for men. I feel like there are more things.

It's happened to me too, someone... a girl I didn't know very well, I'd offered little hand creams that smelled good. I'd offered hair products, a bit of cosmetics. And then, of course, you can always offer cosmetics to men, but there's less choice.

It's easy to give a little lipstick, a little make-up, a varnish, even a small piece of jewelry. Even if you don't know the person very well, you can always take something a little passe-partout, a little classic. It's true that I find it easier to give to women in general, and even more so if it's someone you don't know very well.

I don't know about that. It's true that I didn't think things through at that level. I have the impression that a guy is easy too. You could offer him... No, I was going to say, you could offer him a deodorant. But no, you shouldn't do that because...

Don't do this. If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping, don't do it. Are you crazy? The person is going to be very upset if you give her a deodorant.

Yes, I thought after... I thought as I said it. I said to myself, it's true you were talking about cosmetics. So I thought deodorant, but actually, that's not good. But yes, you're right. Yes, it's true that maybe it's easier for women. I don't realize that. Yeah, you're right.

Is it okay if someone gives us a gift we don't like, to resell it? For example, on Vinted or in France, there's a site called Leboncoin, where you can buy a lot of second-hand stuff.

Obviously, I'm all for it if the person can't see it.

Yes, I agree with you.

So, if I know that it's someone I see often, who's going to come into the apartment often and who can see whether this object is still with us or not, at that point, I'd be more inclined to keep it. But if I know that the person won't realize it, so if they don't see it on leboncoin, for example, or if they don't come...

Or if she doesn't come, sorry, to see it, then I'll... Yes, I'll sell. Better to sell it and get our money back anyway than never use it, that's a shame.

Afterwards, I wouldn't sell it, I'd give it away.

Yes, even a big present? Something quite expensive?

No, but on the other hand, I wouldn't accept. If I really don't like it, I'll tell the person... I'm talking more about small gifts. If someone gives you a very expensive gift that you don't like, you're obliged to say so because they've spent a lot of money. If it can be exchanged.

Yes, there's that too, you can exchange the gift.

Because I had smaller things in mind. It's true that I've had things I had no use for. I never sold them because it made me feel guilty. I felt like I was making money off the person.

So I've given them away. On the other hand, I've already seen someone on Vinted, who had been given a joint gift, i.e. to several people, and I saw that the person was selling something. And it's true that I didn't find that very correct because, in addition, I think she knows that you can see her Vinted. So it's true that... I felt a bit weird about it.

If you can see that, yes, your gift is on sale, that's still not great.

I'm more on the "I give" team, if I don't like it or don't like it anymore.

Yeah. Okay. Me, I... more...

I did it again last week.


After that, it wasn't immediate. Sorry, it wasn't immediate.

That was 2 years later.

It wasn't a gift to me?

No, it wasn't a gift to you.

I'm fine.

But are you on the "I sell" team if she can't tell?

Yes, if she can't know, I'd rather sell. Besides, I don't like accumulating objects at all, as you well know. So I sort a lot, and I also throw things away. I like to sell if I don't use it. So that's for sure, if the person can't see it, I sell.

Here, it's going to be a bit of fun. It's... What do you do if someone gives you a present and you haven't planned anything in return?

Precisely because it's someone you don't necessarily know very well, you think... We're not going to give each other presents, there are a lot of people.

What do you do if that happens? Do you be honest and say, "I'm really sorry, I didn't think we'd be giving each other presents." Do you quickly buy a voucher, for example, Amazon, on your phone and give it to her? Do you steal someone else's gift off the tree? What do you do?

First of all, I know I'm not going to steal presents, that's for sure, because it's horrible. I won't steal presents. Obviously, I'll be embarrassed.

It's true, I think I'd say, "I'm sorry, I don't have a present." And I'd look really embarrassed. Buying fast on Amazon and all, I could do that too, but I think in the moment, I'll be more honest by saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't plan on a gift."

Also, there's another solution, which is to say, "I'm really sorry, I ordered a gift, it got lost. It didn't arrive." But I think that's...

In French, we say: c'est grillé. When something is grilled, in colloquial French, of course, it means that everyone has understood that it's a hoax, that what you're saying is false. But often, even when you're grilled, people are polite and pretend to believe you.

Yes. Yeah, no, but you're right, we've been too busy saying: "He got lost...". It's true that there are so many stories like that where you can see from 10 km away that it's a lie.

No, I couldn't say that. I think I'll be honest. I'll be on the honest team. I'll say, I have no gifts.

If the party's at your place, you can always find something, but if it's at someone else's, you're not going to go into their bathroom, open the cupboards, hope there's...


That's for sure. Something. No, I think, for me, there's no choice but to say, "I apologize, I'm sorry, I..."

Would you do the same?

Yes, yes.

By the way, if you've got any stories about stealing gifts or anything, don't hesitate to tell us, it'll make us laugh.

Nobody steals presents. At the very least, if you've received several gifts, you can take one and give it to yourself and pretend it never happened. But then, you have to have it... It's too complicated. What's more, in terms of timing, it's complicated because you're not going to give it to her half an hour later.

Yes, we have to be honest.

Say it, say it.

You have to be honest. Honesty is always good. Well... it depends on what it's for.

What do you mean, why?

There are times when you can't be 100% honest either. It's just not possible. If you have a co-worker who smells bad or something like that...

You wanted to give deos earlier. You said, "Everyone, give deodorants for Christmas!"

So, what do you prefer... Do you prefer to receive a physical gift, a gift that represents an experience, therefore an activity to do, or do you prefer to receive an envelope with money?

Yeah! No... In fact, I like to receive gifts of things that I wouldn't buy for myself. And it's true that I'm complicated when it comes to gifts, because I'll buy anything I want. Obviously not boats or helicopters, I can't afford them, but as soon as I feel like buying something for myself, I buy it. On the other hand, it's true that I tend not to buy myself enough gifts like that, in my experience. So I really prefer to have gifts like that. Money, we're lucky, we're not in a situation where we absolutely need money to fill the fridge or whatever. So I'd rather not. But on the other hand, yes, experiences are good. And what's more, what's nice about these gifts is that you can feel that the person has thought about it, has thought about it, has said to themselves: "This, he might like this." So it's a gift, I think, that really makes people happy.

Yes, an experience gift can be, for example, tickets to a play, tickets to a musical or tickets to a concert.

Plus, it prolongs Christmas a bit, or if it's a birthday, an anniversary, because it's never in the next few days. It's usually a few months later.

It's true that it makes you do something together and share a moment. It can also be a cooking workshop or a creative workshop or, for example, I don't know, we can make candles, paint on ceramics, do a pottery workshop. What else can we offer?

It can even be offering a restaurant, a very good restaurant, a gourmet restaurant. It's something you can't necessarily do every day, so it's a nice gift too.

I remember I gave you, I think it was for Christmas last year, an Italian cooking workshop where we cooked gnocchi and it was really good.

It's true that it's good to experiment. In any case, when you're a couple, I think it's good to offer something in which both can participate.

That's when you discovered that real gnocchi weren't pan-fried.

That's a shame. It's true that I thought the... The first time I discovered gnocchi, it was the gnocchi you made in a pan, but in fact, not at all.

But it's not you, it's France. In France, most gnocchi aren't made in water, they're pan-fried, and yet, a few days ago, I went to the supermarket to do some shopping and I overheard a lady calling out to a store clerk saying, "Excuse me, where are the pan-fried gnocchi?" And... I wanted to say: "But don't do that! Don't do that, madam!"

I love pan-fried gnocchi, so that's the problem. It's a real problem between us, between Elisabeth and me. There's a conflict.

Fortunately, I'm the one who does the shopping most of the time, so there's no conflict.

So, sixth question. It's a question about ecology and respect for the environment. Are you for or against gift wrapping? It's true that every year, during the Christmas period, there's an enormous amount of waste, not only from the products themselves, but also from gift wrapping. And it's true that in recent years, there have been alternatives, such as wrapping gifts in newspaper. I can't remember what it's called, but there are some... It's a Japanese word, where you wrap with fabric that you can reuse.

Yes, I don't know the word.

It's true that over 20,000 tonnes are consumed every year during the Christmas holidays alone. That's 20% more than at any other time of year. I think that's in France, too. So...

So, am I against it? No, I'm not against it, in the sense that I'm not going to freak out if someone gives me a gift-wrapped present.

Péter un câble is a colloquial expression. It means to go crazy, to lose one's temper.

You mustn't use... It's very familiar.

It's fine if you understand it, but...

Yes, because you may hear it in TV shows or movies, or people may tell you, but don't use it if you're not sure.

So no, I'm not going to crack, I'm not going to freak out. I'm not against it. Let's just say that if there's a wrapping that's like newspaper or something, I think that's great. For me, it's equivalent to having gift wrap or newspaper wrap.

I think that's great, insofar as the gift is protected, and there's still that aspect of surprise, of "you open it, you unwrap it".

I think it's a nice experience too. If we can use something else, why not. But in any case, I'm not going to stop buying wrapping paper for my presents, and I'm not going to get upset if people give me a present with wrapping paper, that's for sure. But what about you?

It's true that I buy gift wrap every year. Last year, I bought the big rolls, where it's a bit recycled, where it's brown like this. But it's true that I think it's still pretty, it's nice.

It's also part of the magic of Christmas, to have neat, well-wrapped little packages. Still, I try to be really careful.

But it's true that I think it's also a bit part of the... It's true that I like to put little sequins on packaging. On paper, in the background, obviously, I shouldn't, but I do.

Yes. Plus, I get the impression that a lot of gift wrap is actually recycled, and it's recyclable too.

Yes, that's right, it's recyclable. That's a lot of...

Yes, that's extra waste, all right.

But I have the impression that there are so many other things we can do, at least on a daily basis, to preserve nature than this aspect, insofar as it does represent a tradition, Christmas folklore. If you don't agree, please don't insult us.

In general, don't insult us.

Please, we can avoid it, it's always nice.

So pay attention to this question. If you have children around you, put on headphones, put your children in another room or go into another room. The last thing you want is for the children to hear this question. I'll give you a few seconds to make your arrangements, to do what you need to do so that they don't hear.

Is that OK? The question is... At what age do you start telling children that you're the one who makes Christmas presents? You've clearly understood that Santa Claus isn't the one who stops by.

Really? Isn't that Santa Claus?

No. No, I'm the one who buys the presents, so you find out about them too when...

I was sure it was Santa Claus. I don't understand, actually. From what age? I know that I learned at the age of six that Santa Claus didn't exist. I don't know if I ever told him that, in fact, on video, how I found out. I just don't know.

I don't know, but you can tell it.

I'll tell it.

It's a bit sad.

It's a bit sad. In fact, I think I told it. I was at home, I was little, little Mathieu. I used to love phoning the number, Santa Claus. I used to phone Santa. Of course, it wasn't Santa Claus, but it was a company that managed it and made a lot of money from it.

There used to be ads on TV saying "call this number and tell us what gift you want". Now there's a bit less of that, I think.

Yes, there's less of that, I think. I called... I called a lot, in fact, so it was very expensive for my family, my parents.

And then, one day, my sister said to me: "Actually, that's not true, you don't phone Santa Claus." But I was like, "No, it's not possible, I can't believe it, I can hear him. So it's him." Because his voice was like "Oh oh oh". And in fact, she said to me: "Try it, go ahead, call.

And when Santa asks you what you want for a present, you say nothing." And so obviously, I call, I say nothing and Santa says to me: "Here, thank you, I've registered your list, you're going to receive these presents and everything." And that's when I realized that it wasn't the real Santa Claus I had on the phone. And so I realized that, in reality, Santa didn't exist. And that made me... I was very sad.

But they make no effort because it's registered messaging. They could at least really pay people to reply and pretend.

It's true that this was a recording. But that was a long time ago. I'm from '86, so I was six, so it was in '92. It's true that it...

Yes, maybe it was the parents who ended up telling us, but nowadays, I get the impression that children are so exposed to networks, even as children. Don't they learn about it earlier and on their own?

Yes, it's true that maybe they learn a bit more in the playground with other friends who say so.

It's true that it's not good to lie to children, but it's so great when you're little to say "Santa Claus has come" that I don't want to deprive a child of that dream, that illusion.

Obviously, he's disappointed when he finds out that's not the case, but in any case, there have been so many good times associated with it that I'm not in favor of saying it too soon.

I really think that an age of around five or six is enough. At least he's not seen as stupid by his friends either. Because obviously, if he learns at 14, people will make fun of him. But I think six is a pretty reasonable age.

A few days ago, I bumped into the wife of a friend of Mathieu's in the building, who was with her little daughter, who must be four years old.

And I say hello. I hold the door for her as she enters. And actually, I think she was a bit distraught. She didn't know what to do because she was with the little girl next door.

And she said to me, "Ah, she just told me something interesting that at Christmas, it wasn't Santa Claus, it was the parents who bought the presents."

And I think that made her sad, because it was still very early. Her daughter, yes, I think she's four at the most. And it's true that I think, even as a parent, it's very exhilarating, it's a good moment, it gives you good energy.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you get caught up in it, I think it must be a role. I know there's a theory that says yes, but it's manipulation, the kids feel betrayed afterwards. I don't know. I honestly don't know. Honestly, I don't know. In any case, I'm on the team of those who will lie a little.

It's true that it's funny. In Belgium, it's more St Nicholas than Santa Claus for children, so it's December 6th. It's true that children are sometimes a bit silly.

My parents told me a story. At one point, my father was next to me. I don't know if it was me who was particularly stupid as a child, or if it was all children.

And he took... He was next to me and a second later he takes a white plastic bag and he puts it just like that. He puts the hips of the bag in his ears and it makes him look like he's got a white plastic beard. He just says, "It's St. Nicholas." Well... I really believed him.


Yes, it's cute. After that, it's fun to tell stories.

Yes, it's cute.

Even if they are embarrassing for me. But it's cute.


That was the last question in this video.

We hope you've enjoyed it, and that you'll have a wonderful holiday season - at least if you celebrate, of course, so that not everyone celebrates Christmas or New Year's Eve.

And of course, don't forget to "like" us. You know how important it is on YouTube to show that you like our content. If you're new too, subscribe to the channel so you don't miss any of our videos, and we'll see you soon.

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