Do you picture the holidays to be like a Hallmark Movie? Everything “calm and bright,” the house decked out in garlands with perfect gifts beautifully wrapped under the tree? All done by the first week of December?
Well, that’s not reality! Often, the holidays are a mix of stress and exhaustion, feeling like you’re not meeting expectations, and sometimes, a total letdown. Instead of enjoying relaxed holiday nights by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa, it’s late-night Target runs for last minute items. Research has shown that 44% of women and 31% of men experience increased stress during the holiday season. And a huge part of this is gift giving.
Let’s tackle some basics about anxiety before figuring out a more stress-free gift giving strategy. First, make a plan for the holiday season to reduce anxiety and stress. Number one on your list is to “Get Active!” This is the perfect time to be ramping UP the exercise because it’s good for your body, but also so good for your mind. A 30 minute walk around the block will do wonders for you and your anxiety!
Do you know what is nearly always number two and three on the stress-reducing lists? Meditation and yoga! Don’t let these words scare you away- just YouTube a very simple beginners guide to yoga or meditation and challenge yourself for 10 minutes a day, then check in with your body. I can personally guarantee you will be less anxious about what the holiday season holds! Yoga poses may help you release physical blockages such as muscle knots. Yoga doesn’t only help release tension in the body, but emotional tension as well. If you can work any of these anxiety-fighters into your holiday season schedule, you will have given yourself the ultimate gift.
So let’s get back to the gifts...
Why is gift giving so stressful?
- The threat of disappointing recipients looms large, and it’s hard to find just the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
- Shopping can be exhausting.
- It’s expensive, right? It’s projected that 1 in 3 Americans will take on debt this holiday season, and that’s not very merry at all.
- Sometimes, it feels like you are losing “the reason for the season” in consumerism.
We give gifts because it feels good to practice altruism or selfless actions that benefit someone else. That warm, fuzzy feeling when you get just the perfect gift for the one you love is the best gift of all (so cliché, but true!). However, wanting to find that perfect gift, creates anxiety. Let’s face it, we all love Starbucks, but every time I resort to a Starbucks gift card, I don’t feel like the most thoughtful gift giver. We have some simple steps to ease your gift-giving anxiety and head into the holidays ready to reset, not stress. Take note!
Holiday Shopping Tips - So You Don’t Lose Your Mind
When I say start early, I mean READY - SET - GO! AND I MEAN NOW!
We all know about the supply chain issues, so even more reason to start ordering. I think we can all agree, Black Friday is totally worth the hype. The savings are pretty tremendous wherever you shop. According to Adobe’s holiday online shopping forecast, US Consumers are projected to spend $207 billion from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, heading for a new online spending record and a 10% increase from 2020. The adage “Get it before they’re gone” has never been more true.
Get lists and ideas.
You might love to surprise people, but it’s actually more thoughtful to ask if your loved ones have a “wish list.” It’s so easy to email links, make a wish list on any website, and share. Honestly, there are probably items that the people on your list need to make a difference in their lives, and it’s nice to know if you can help.
Another fun option for gift giving this year is to pick names out of a hat. Everybody buys for just one of the nieces or nephews, and maybe up the budget a bit. Then, there is more time and thought into getting something truly meaningful. And there is nothing like taking the time to really pick something that lights up someone’s eyes!
Before you finalize that list, be honest with your family and friends. Maybe some of the people on your list would prefer to spend more time together rather than exchange wrapped gifts, or they would be thrilled with a donation to a charity in their name. Often, we are too afraid to let each other down and change tradition. Throw out some new and different ideas because you never know unless you ask!
But first, create a budget.
I know you have heard this a million times, but it is THE ONLY WAY to make sure you don’t overspend. You have to get honest about how much you can spend without going into debt or drastically affecting your wallet. Now, look at your list. Prioritize gifts and money allotment to each person, and stick to it.
Suggest to friends that you skip the gifts this year and instead go to a great dinner at one of your favorite restaurants in January. It’s something fun to look forward to after the holiday slump, more meaningful, and January is a new credit card billing cycle, perfect!
Or - how about getting your Grandma a sweet teacup with a note to say you have a standing date with her for tea on Sunday afternoons? Time with you is the gift she really wants!
For large family gatherings, it’s fun for adults to chill out with the gift-giving and have some fun. A White Elephant gift swap is always a hit. Everyone brings a gift suitable for anyone at a set price. The fun is in the swapping! Lots of laughs ensue, and people “steal” the top gifts from one another. You can also pick a theme: board games, ugly sweaters, etc. Bring your favorite, swap, and have a themed holiday gathering.
Don’t only get creative, but get CRAFTY. My young daughter painted a picture for her grandparents of their beloved summer lake home from a photo we had. They went nuts, and it’s now framed and proudly shown off with a place of honor in their home. The gift that keeps on giving!
Stick to your budget.
If there is something extra special you want to get your loved one, but it’s going to crush your budget, go in with someone else on the gift. It’s important to remember that gift giving is not a competition! Every family has that one person who gives beyond the agreed budget or is just extremely generous with their money. Don’t try to keep up. Give because you want to make someone happy, not because you want to “win” the most expensive gift contest!
Whatever you do, BALANCE THAT GIFT-GIVING BUDGET. If you splurge on one person, you can’t splurge on another. If you cannot wait to give your niece her dream Lego set, maybe you get your sister-in-law a simpler necklace. A balanced budget is an ultimate gift to yourself.
Let’s remember that a gift is just an item. How you treat and express your love and gratitude for others is the most significant gift! And put yourself on the list, too. Don’t give yourself a holiday financial hangover. Set yourself up for success and stick to the tips above.
Happy shopping, but more importantly, ENJOY the season!