Can giving more meaningful gifts lead to a simpler Christmas for you? What does ‘more meaningful’ entail?
It’s no great surprise that many people will struggle to buy gifts this year. Finding an alternative method of giving could be just what you need to experience a less stressful, more meaningful, and much simpler festive season.
Expensive Gifts Versus Meaningful Ones
We shouldn’t be judged on how much we spend on someone’s gifts, but we often are. Sometimes this will come from the recipient, perhaps because they equate love with money. This could be a result of their upbringing, or external sources (peer pressure for example), so we shouldn’t be too quick to judge them in return.
At other times, the judgement can come from external sources. In these instances, we should perhaps examine our relationship with the person/people concerned. We need to ask ourselves why we’re bothered by what they think. Have we been conditioned to try and ‘keep up with the Joneses’? Seeing other people spending lavishly on presents can make us feel like we need to do the same, so we don’t appear ‘cheap’.
We’d like to bet you can remember TV adverts from your childhood years, especially those for the latest toy or gadget. The advertising industry heavily promotes extravagant gifts at Christmas and to be fair, they’ve done a pretty good job of it over the years.
As a child of the sixties, I can still remember the ad for the little Thumbelina doll in her rocking cradle, and I’m sure most of us saw adverts for Tiny Tears dolls. Recalling them decades later proves just how memorable and powerful those adverts were.
Although some things have changed with regards to advertising for children, we all still experience a constant barrage of commercials on a daily basis. And nowadays, the products are much more expensive, with gadgets, trendy toys and luxury items becoming the norm.
Advertisements try to create a sense of FOMO, or fear of missing out, and they do it pretty successfully. This pressurises many of us to overspend to ensure that our loved ones don’t feel left out.
Working out why ‘missing out’ affects us takes us to the root source of the issue. It’s important to discover what this is, so we can tackle it. Only then can we change our ways and begin to see that the price of a gift isn’t important. All that’s important is the meaning behind it, and the feeling with which it’s being given. Think of a grandma receiving a hand-decorated card from their toddler grandchild. It’s a priceless treasure that cost nothing more than a little time and effort to make, and the joy it can give is immeasurable.
Perhaps you grew up in a household where Christmas was focused on the material aspects of gifts. If sibling rivalry was also involved, it can lead to all sorts of issues around gift-giving. This can subsequently lead to a lifelong expectation of receiving – and giving – lavish gifts, regardless of our ability to pay for them.
You may also have experienced disappointment or negative emotions around gift-giving. For example, not being able to find the perfect present for a parent, or seeing someone disappointed with what you gave them. This can manifest as a desire to overspend in an attempt to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Sometimes we strive for an unrealistic level of perfection in everything we do, and that includes gift-giving. We can feel compelled to seek out the most unique and expensive gifts to impress our loved ones, even when the recipients wouldn’t expect that from us.
Guilt can also play its part in driving overspending, because we feel obligated to spend a certain amount on some people. A sense of duty can override our financial limitations, often leading to unnecessary debt.
How to Overcome the Pressure
Firstly, set a realistic budget. Assess your current situation, work out what you can afford and then stick to it. Speak to the people in your gift-giving circle and explain you need to spend less this year. You’ll most likely find they’re relieved, as they too need to cut down.
Focus on quality, not quantity. A few carefully chosen gifts that show you care will be much more appreciated than a large number of impersonal presents. This is especially true with small children.
Another option is to prioritise experiences. Rather than material objects, why not consider gifting an experience such as concert tickets, a spa day, back massage etc? There are so many options to choose from, available at different prices to suit your budget.
Alternatively, check out some of the ideas on the picture below. A stressed and busy person would probably appreciate an offer of babysitting or ironing more than a physical gift, so use your imagination.
Embracing the Spirit of Giving Makes for a More Meaningful Season
The true meaning of Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, spreading joy and happiness, and sharing kindness. Don’t let the pressure of gifting overshadow the very essence of what the season means, and you’ll definitely experience a more meaningful, simpler Christmas.
Stuck for ideas? Look no further!
Some great gift ideas for you
Free: feed a family lunch/dinner at your home; 3 hours of babysitting; ironing for a month; dog walking for a month – you get the idea
Inexpensive: books; blank journals; watercolour pens; coffee subscription
Mid-priced: massage; subscription to Audible or Readly; spa day – these can be cheap if you buy through a site like Wowcher. I’ve seen a full spa day with a glass of sparkling wine on there for just £29!
Don’t forget to use cashback sites whenever you’re spending money online.
Why not pin this as a reminder, for the next time you’re tempted to overspend on presents?
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