For as much happiness and joy as the holidays can bring, they can also bring a lot of unnecessary stress, anxiety and guilt... most often by the material things... the presents.
As a child it was always fun to look forward to having Santa and my parents spoil me on Christmas morning, but as an adult, I really have formed a different view of the holiday and the joys it can bring. This year I chose to combat all of the negative emotions and negative associations that have been formed when it comes to gift giving at Christmas-time by starting to shift the way I purchase and select the gifts I give in the first place!
Below are a couple of ways I have organized my thoughts and planned ahead this year in order to make gift giving a less stressful and more beautiful experience; I hope that next year I will be able to take this even further, as I had so much run re-evaluating my past processes and ditching the useless gift-giving routines.
Planned vs. Last Minute
To avoid the chaos and frustration that is last minute shopping in jam-packed shopping malls and grocery stores, I started my list making and shopping in October this year. I was able to really sort out who I had to buy for, and what I thought they might like. Not to mention, I saved money by going into the stores with a list instead of walking around aimlessly.
Now only three weeks away from Christmas Day, I can say that 80% of my shopping is done and wrapped and ready to gift, and I haven’t sweat an ounce! Not to mention Bryer and I haven’t argued once over money, gifts, time spent, etc. It has really lightened the mood and brought back the fun and excitement that comes with getting something you know that someone will light up opening Christmas morning!
Homemade vs. Store Bought
I have made it an obligation of mine this year to make sure that I am incorporating some homemade gifts into the mix this Christmas! Let’s face it... half of the things that you can find in the stores are things you could create yourself, and in doing so, could add more meaning to the gift you’re giving this holiday season!
Two things I really enjoy are writing and baking. This year, instead of big gifts for all of the adults in my family, I purchased beautiful cards that can be displayed year after year, and am going to be baking an assortment of baked goodies that I will put into these amazing tins and sweets buckets that I found. On top of that, I will gift my time; if the last 5 years has taught me anything, it is that time goes by way too fast; every second I can spend with a loved one or a friend is gift enough for me this year!
I also love to gift pieces of writing that I have completed that have to do with certain family members. I put a lot of time and thought into writing these memories I have with them down on paper, and I love to share with them how I remember the time we have spent together! I have seen some tears after opening these types of gifts; they really touch the persons soul and fill their heart with love and nostalgia.
Get creative, and incorporate a part of you and your talents into your gifting this year; I know some of my favorite gifts have been the ones that didn’t cost a cent. The options are endless!
Local vs. Chain
For me, making every gift that I want to gift to someone this year just isn’t going to be possible, plus, I know there are things in stores that my sister, brother, etc. will really enjoy or have had their eyes on. So though I will still be purchasing some gifts this year, I have made a tremendous effort to shop MORE locally and LESS chain and “fast fashion.”
I spent a day in my hometown in NH browsing a ton of amazing independent and locally owned shops where I found some of my favorite gifts I’ll be giving this year. I find that especially in the realm of stocking stuffers, you can’t go wrong with places like this; I even chose the local bookstore before taking a trip to Barnes and Noble! I love the idea that I am investing my money in someone quality made, and unique, rather than something that was made poorly and won’t last.
Shopping locally helps support small businesses as well as the communities that likely need that little bit of a pick-me-up; plus you can know for sure that you are supporting people. You are helping people who work hard all year-round earn a living, and in some cases, locally owned shops like the ones in Laconia work with charities around this time of year! It’s a win-win.
Filler vs. Practical
Last, I can’t be the only one who in past years has grabbed something off the shelf and brought it to the register just to get something. Quantity vs. Quality mindset. It’s ridiculous, and really nothing good can come from a gift that you put no thought into. You spent money for no reason, and chances are that person won’t use what you gave them... they might not even like it. It's a vicious cycle, and you both lose.
A couple of years ago, my family came together and we all decided that enough was enough. Our family was growing bigger with significant others, and the expectation that we would all by one or two gifts for every person was too much. No one could afford it, and if we could it was by stretching every penny we had and suffering financially well after the holiday was over.
For example: When it comes to immediate family at my Mom’s house, (Mom, River, Cordelia, Brie, Bryer and I), we now only purchase 3-4 stocking stuffers per person (which makes it fun because you get to guess who got you what), and then a main gift for Mom, and she spoils us a bit with some other gifts. (Moms do that).
Then when we go to my grandmothers, and her, my Aunt Leda, Aunt Jill, and Uncle VJ are added to the mix, we decided on Secret Santa. On Thanksgiving Day we pick our names, and the cap for that one person you buy for is $50.00. This also takes all the pressure off, and allows for more eating, games, and just family time in general on Christmas Day!
I also want to add that sitting with friends and family and actually talking to them, is a great way to learn what they really need or want, especially around holiday-time. I will take my phone out and write down something my sister told me she loves or really wants when we are on a road trip somewhere. I keep it for later, and then in December when I am stumped for gift ideas, I have them all right there! I know personally that some of my favorite material items that I have been gifted are the ones that I totally had forgotten I talked about at all. Such a great surprise, and shows that you care and are listening!
Please remember that changes like this, especially when it comes to mindset, don’t happen over night. Take this Christmas, or next Christmas to push yourself in the right direction, and eventually I believe you can remove all the stress and anxiety that comes with giving the “perfect” gift. Remember also that material things in numbers are not what the season is all about, and time spent with family and friends is the true miracle of Christmas.