The holiday season has become so commercialized and focused on gift giving (and receiving!) that it’s very easy to forget the meaning of Christmas. Regardless of it’s religious origins, Christmas has always meant to me time with family and showing gratitude. I do give gifts but my list has been greatly reduced in recent years. It’s not about how much I spend or whether I receive anything in return. It’s about showing my appreciation and gratitude to my loved ones, colleagues and closest friends, it’s the thought that counts.
Gift buying can be a major cause of stress for many during this time of year either due to financial hardship or just finding the time to shop, wrap and deliver. Here’s a rundown of alternative ways to celebrate your holiday or tips to reduce the gift giving anxiety.
Teamwork My sister and law, ex hubby and I used to split the kiddie relatives gift duties. We used to buy one gift from all three of us for each kid. Although we split the cost, we alternated shopping and wrapping duties every other year.
Theme Each year, identify a theme, pick a couple of shops or online sites that fit the theme and buy as many gifts as you can from those selected shops. My past themes have included Sephora, books and monogrammed bags. By cutting out the number of shops you have to visit, you can save time and also focus rather than wandering aimlessly around the mall or online.
Secret Santa Do you have a big group of friends? Instead of buying a ton of gifts, have everyone draw names, set a price limit and buy one extra special gift each year.
DIY I love receiving handmade gifts or homemade goodies. Some of my favorite gifts have been Hawaiian Salt mix, Chex Party Mix, rum cake, a hand blown glass tray and a furoshiki inspired wrap for my potluck pyrex containers. Your recipients will feel the love that went into your gifts and you can avoid the mad rush at the mall. You may even save a buck or two.
The Intangible Give more of yourself and less of your wallet. Print up pretty gift certificates online (you could use a holiday photo app with text options or stationery letter size paper with a holiday print) or handwrite in blank cards your offer of babysitting services, photography lessons, a tray of your famous lasagna, SUP lessons or a Sunday brunch in your home. Will you be alone on the holiday? I have been away from my family during important holidays and I chose to donate my time at special events for the homeless or elderly.
Regift That’s right, you heard me…regift. But in a thoughtful way and put your own spin on it. If you’re not much of a drinker and received a beautiful bottle of wine, pass it on to a friend who will appreciate it. You can add some cheese, fruit, chocolate and crackers to make a gift basket an vino lover will appreciate. Put a special picture or typographical message in the frame you’ve never used.
Reduce Trim your guest list or consolidate. Don’t feel the pressure or get caught up in the need to give everyone a gift that has given you one. If your budget is tight this year or you’ve finished your shopping, don’t feel obligated to run out and by a gift for your neighbor, boss, etc. I give my staff gifts but don’t expect anything in return; I’m showing my appreciation for how hard they’ve worked. You can always return the favor with food or flowers after the holiday season crunch is over. Or simply write a heartfelt thank you note. Buy one gift for an entire family or a couple instead of individual gifts. Don’t keep up with the Jones…give what you can afford; it’s the thought that counts.
What gifts? I have one facebook friend who informs all of his family and friends that he does not wish to receive any gifts; he instead chooses to focus on the meaning of Christmas, spending time with loved ones and showing gratitude. Another spin on this could be to request donations be made to the charity of your choice in lieu of a gift. You can also decide as a family or as a couple not to exchange gifts, instead focusing on spending time together.