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Too many presents

Couponers have been known to overdo it at times. Some have been criticized for hoarding, building stockpiles of things they’ll never use, and clearing shelves so no one else can get in on a good deal. But one coupon blogger is facing a unique kind of criticism this holiday season – she’s getting “present shamed”.

35-year-old Emma Tapping, who lives on the Isle of Man in the UK, runs a website called “Selfie Saver”, where she shares deals and writes about her shopping and saving adventures. She had a modest following, until one of her social media posts went viral last week – and not in a good way.

The subject of the post wasn’t the latest hot coupon deal, but a photo of her Christmas tree. What tree, you might ask, after attempting to find it somewhere in the above photo? It’s right there – behind that HUGE HONKING PILE OF PRESENTS.

To Tapping, it was just a festive photo. To critics, it was disgraceful. “It’s nearly time for all the materialistic parents to compete and broadcast how many presents their kids have,” wrote one critic who reposted the photo on Facebook. “Just remember, there are a lot of children who won’t get much.”

That post has been shared more than 100,000 times, and counting. It even inspired a Twitter hashtag, #toomanypresents. And now Tapping is getting far more attention than she could have imagined, for her adventures in shopping and saving (and shopping, and shopping, and shopping…)

“This is obscene. What are you teaching your children?” one Facebook commenter wrote. “GREED in all its glory,” added another. “You’re probably the woman in the checkout line that says NO to donating $1 to kids that have cancer,” a third chimed in.

So who’s really lacking in the true holiday spirit here – the woman who went nuts with the presents this year, or the social media cynics who are getting all judgy about it?

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A bewildered Tapping tried to defend herself on her Facebook page, as her story spread. The photo was “blasted all over Facebook without my knowledge,” she wrote. “It was not done as a ‘bragging parent’.” As a coupon user and savvy saver, “I did not go on a ‘spree’,” she added. “It’s been well documented I do this throughout the year.”

In an interview with a British TV station, she explained further. “I’m not rich at all,” she said. “I literally start from January, I shop all the way through, I use every bargain that I can and every sale that I can. That’s the way I do it, I shop all year round to make the pile as big as it is and start wrapping in August.”

Besides, she pointed out, the presents aren’t just for her three children, but for her, her partner and her mother as well.

Still – even with six people attacking that pile, it could be sometime in 2016 before they’re done unwrapping everything.

In all, there are some 300 presents under – or in front of – the tree, for which Tapping says she spent about $2,300. That comes to less than 8 bucks per present. So the mere sight of all those wrapped packages may actually be more extravagant than what’s inside.

Along with the detractors, Tapping does have plenty of defenders. “More power to you! My husband and myself are at a place financially now where we can afford to spend a lot on our 4 kids at Christmas, so we do!” one supporter wrote on Tapping’s Facebook page. “You thought ahead and not like a lot of people who max out their credit cards,” another added. “People don’t understand that being a thrifty shopper allows you to be able to afford more,” wrote a third. “Maybe if people did that, their tree would look like this.”

For those who actually do wish their tree looked like Tapping’s, they might be able to learn how to make it happen – by following a certain coupon blog. “I would happily help anyone find the bargains or give tips on how I save,” Tapping told BuzzFeed News.

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. If this whole incident brings Tapping some more followers, it might all have been worth it.

And that could turn out to be the best present of all. Just as long as Tapping can find it, under all that other stuff.

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