(Of Gift Giving)
It’s the season of giving, or at least that is one-way advertisers get the idea into our brains that end-of-the-year celebrations are the perfect opportunity to show our love and appreciation with material stuff. The truth is, you don’t need gift-giving and material things to break your pocket along the way to express your feelings during the holiday season.
There’s nothing wrong with gift-giving during the holidays. Thus, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you navigate this holiday season:
- Prepare: Make a list, review, and revise. Estimate how much you’ll spend during the holiday season and annualize this expense.
- Shop Small: It helps small business owners invest in your community, stimulates the economy of where you live, and reduces the carbon footprint by saving on unnecessary transportation.
- Communicate: Talk to your family and friends this holiday season and propose a “gift ban.” You might become their hero by saying something they might even be thinking about out loud, saving them time, money, and space since they won’t be contributing to their clutter.
- Listen to Advertisements: Tune out advertisements and not let adverts dictate what matters and how you express your feelings.
- Incur Debt: Use cash to pay for your purchases and stay within your budget. Credit card purchases simulate a reward system in the brain that leads to more spending, so leave it at home.
- Put a Price to Affections: Different cultures are familiar with the quote, “The thought is what counts,” or “La intención es lo que cuenta.” Remember that!
If a Gift Ban Fails
If all your attempts to convince your loved ones to give up gift-giving fails, here are a few suggestions that might help:
Give Thoughtful Gifts: They are time-consuming, yes. However, spending time trying to find a thoughtful gift for that special someone can help you accomplish a few things:
- Be conscious about how much you’re spending on each gift
- Remind you that the size or the price of a gift doesn’t equate to love
- Control your overall spending
Provide Experiences: The four-gift rule (something they need, something they want, something to wear, something to read) can help you on your gift-shopping adventure. However, research suggests that people are happier with experiential rather than material purchases. Thus, don’t fill your shopping cart with random stuff. Provide an experience instead!
Give in their name: Contributing to charitable giving in their name can fulfill many hearts simultaneously, yours included.
Create a Gift Giving Rule Book
It might sound extreme, but setting some standard ground rules can make an already busy season less stressful for everyone. Some of my family’s rules are:
- Price limit – i.e., the gift can’t be more than $50
- “Wish list” – To make people’s life’s easier and reduce the likelihood of getting something the kids won’t use and will increase clutter.
- Gift cards or cash – It is helpful for kids and teenagers to get what they want or, even better, put it in their savings accounts
- Hand-made items only – Make it fun!
- One gift per family – Instead of everyone buying a dozen of individual gifts
This season remember that holidays mean more than gifts and expenses. It is a time to rejoice and create memories that last longer than any material object you throw away once it is worn out.