I’m a giver and I love giving gifts! So limiting who I was giving gifts to, or how much I was going to spend, was a struggle for me for years. But something had to change – I had been noticing the amount of stress and chaos that I was causing myself around the holiday season increasing each year. My family and friends were all spending more and more on gifts for each person, and it was getting to the point where it was not fun or sustainable any longer. In short, I was getting caught up in the societal pressures, marketing tactics, and was overspending.
When I stopped and evaluated what I truly wanted for the holiday season, stress, chaos, and overspending was not it. What I wanted was to make memories, to make others feel cherished and loved, and to feel that in return without going into financial debt.
So even though I was a little nervous about bringing up the idea of limiting the dollar amount that we spend on each other each year…that was until I gamified it! To say I am a “little” competitive is the understatement of the year. Let me explain.
I talked to each family and group of friends separately, and was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback that my idea of changing things up received. I came to each person/family/friend and asked if we could do something different this holiday season. I told them that what I really wanted was more quality time, and that I wanted to reduce the financial burden and the stress of the holidays. That I was making intentional decisions with my money and that I had some ideas or how to make the holidays special for us.
My ideas included either:
1) limiting the dollar figure per person;
2) drawing names for the family;
3) choosing instead to get together in each others home for dinner, dessert, or coffee;
4) having a potluck with a white elephant or ornament exchange;
5) Choosing a family adventure – a day at the zoo, or a game/movie night;
6) Making homemade gifts – limiting the amount of money spent for the supplies;
7) Or asking them what ideas they had.
Whatever was decided, it was about making memories, rather than purchasing something that someone may not need or really want.
The whole point of the holiday season and the act of giving is to give the one thing that matters the most – how you make somebody feel. A beautiful card can create such a warm and comforting feeling that lasts for years and years versus an item that is misplaced, forgotten, or never used.
Taking the time out of your day to sit down and truly see and hear the person that is in front of you, giving them the gift of feeling heard, seen, important, and special is a gift that they will treasure far greater than any particular item. Too many times we think we have to give something to everyone and in doing so we take away what is the most important, quality time together.
So this holiday season, choose to do something different – I was pleasantly surprised by the reception that my conversation brought. Everyone loved the idea of either going out for dessert, on an adventure, or having a potluck dinner and game night together. Remember to choose a dollar limit that you will not spend over. The creative options are limitless, and the time spent together making memories without the financial burden will bring the joy of the holiday season back into your lives.