Gift Giving Burdens: Changing the Rules


gift givingI love Christmas time. The music, lights, decorations, cookies, stockings… But wait, there’s one part of Christmas that I don’t enjoy as much, and this might sound selfish, but bear with me. The gift giving of Christmas is just too much.

Aside from my own children and husband, I feel underwhelmed with choices of gifts to give for the people on my list. What do these people like? I think as I stare at a large Christmas display in a large, harsh lit department store. A blanket? I ask myself. Sure. Everyone wants to be warm. I have a moment of satisfaction.

But inevitably, when I get home I will have regrets as I wrap this item I have chosen haphazardly. This thing that likely will mean little to my recipient.

I want to give a present that means something. A gift that the recipient truly needs or that adds to their life. If that’s what I want, why every year am I scrambling around department stores, grabbing mittens or micro-fiber blankets?

Well, a few reasons.

1. I Follow the Unspoken Rule: Get a Gift, Give a Gift

This a terrible rule to follow. It really sucks the fun out of gift giving. I want to buy a present for someone because that item sticks out to me as something that person would love. 

Buying a gift that has meaning for the person you are buying it for takes thought. When I buy a gift simply because I feel like I have to, it’s unlikely that I will buy something meaningful for my recipient because…

2. I Have Little Idea What People Actually Need

My to-buy-for list usually consists of my and my husbands family: brother-in-laws, sisters, nephews, nieces and parents.

I keep in touch with everyone in the family, but I don’t talk to them every week. Even when I am able to have conversations with my sisters or brother, I still may not get any information on the type of gift they would like to be given, let alone their children or significant other.

Inevitably, I end up calling each a main contact for the people on my list and asking, “What do you want for Christmas?” I usually am given a generous list to choose from, especially for the kids, which I promptly put to the side once I realize…

3. I Have Not Planned Adequately To Buy Meaningful Presents 

I’m focused on Halloween in October—I don’t want to think about Christmas in October! And anyway, if I buy earlier than October, will the person on my list still need or want the gift I chose? If that person is my husband, then the answer is no. He buys most everything he needs off of Amazon ASAP.

And once I start buying presents for the people on my list at close to the holiday at full retail price, I need to stretch the budget. That means a mall run for blankets, hats and mittens.

But Here’s The Thing

I don’t have to follow this unspoken rule of this Get a Gift, Give a Gift. It’s the sole reason why I don’t like gift giving! It feels forced and unauthentic.

Last year, I decided to break the unspoken rule on a test run. It was marvelous. Instead of buying multiple, individual presents, I gave families a tin of popcorn with a movie or a board game. I was happy with my choice. I knew the family would enjoy it, and I was proud that I didn’t settle for a gift that the recipient would forget the next week. A large family gift worked for me because it alleviated some of the gift buying.

I have officially given myself permission to buy for a person when I see something I think they would love, whether or not I plan on giving everyone else in that family an individual present. Giving the gift might need to be done discretely, but I would rather that then giving another thing that someone doesn’t want.

So there you go. If gift giving stresses you out like it does me, reevaluate how to make it less stressful. My way was to change my rules.  

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Amber was born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. She grew up in Rockrimmon until she was 9, when her family moved to the eastern plains of Colorado until she was 17. At 17, Amber came back to Colorado Springs and stayed put. She married her favorite guy in 2008 and settled on the east side of Colorado Springs. Amber is mother to two sweet, rambunctious girls. Amber’s two girls share her love of being outdoors, comic books, and Harry Potter. Amber enjoys reading to her girls (and to herself), listening to and telling life stories with friends, and getting outside to enjoy our beautiful state.