One thing that I love most about this time of year is holiday gift giving. I love the feeling of excitement I get when I find a gift that I know someone will love, whether it’s one of my kids, my husband or one of our parents. I love the idea of holiday gift giving. I love surprises. I love making other people feel good. I love when I can give someone something that is thoughtful and wonderful and makes them smile. I love that holiday gift giving is a way of showing those who matter most to me how important they are. I love that holiday gift giving makes me feel like this amazing person, and that it shows my loved ones that I listen to them, I know them and I am always thinking of them, even when I might not be with them.
The idea of forgoing holiday gift giving, to me, sounds miserable. It sounds awful. I could never not give anyone anything. I love to pick up little odds and ends when I see something that someone I love might want, even when it’s not the holiday gift-giving season. I love this time of year, and I love giving. So, do I feel that you should give up holiday gift giving to save money? I can’t answer that.
I don’t feel that I could, would or should; but I know my financial situation. I don’t know yours. I don’t know if the holiday gift giving tradition is one you can afford. I don’t know if it’s a little bit of a stretch because you have a small budget, or if it’s the most stressful time of year because you simply cannot afford anything other than what you are already paying for in your monthly expenses. I cannot answer this question for you; I can, however, guide you to answer this question for yourself.
Is holiday gift giving something that you should give up to save money?
Are you in Debt?
If you have debt, can you really afford to do the holiday gift giving thing when you have bills that need to be paid off? Can you afford to spend some cash on giving gifts this month while still paying off your debts? Are you comfortable with that? It’s not my decision; I have an opinion, but it’s not my decision to make for you.
Are you Behind on your Bills?
If you decide to do the holiday gift giving thing this year, what does it mean to your finances? Do you have to cut more coupons and work a little hard not to splurge too much at the supermarket this month or do you have to forgo your monthly date night to afford it? Or does buying gifts mean you’re going to skip paying your mortgage this month and work really hard the next few months to make up for that missed – now very late – payment?
If you’re going to forgo paying bills you have to shop for holiday gifts to give, it’s time to give up the holiday gift giving and move on from the trap that you have to partake in this holiday gift giving tradition.
Talk about It
Chances are pretty good that you are not all by yourself in this decision. If you have a partner, spouse or kids, you will really need to communicate this issue with them this year. Do you really want to forgo holiday gift giving this year so that you can save money? If so, talk about it. This is one of those situations in which communication is key. You must make it a habit and a point to talk through something like this with the rest of the family. Additionally, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that while some people will respect your decision, they will likely still get you something during the holidays because it is not in their nature not to do so.
How to Get Rid of Holiday Gift Giving in Your Life
There is no easy way to say that you are not holiday gift giving to anyone this year, especially if you have kids. However, you’re going to have to do the difficult thing, and that means you’re going to have to tell the people in your life. Tell your kids that you are saving money and will not be holiday gift giving this year. Tell your friends and family and anyone else who might be giving you holiday gifts so that they have the option to choose not to. You have to make sure that your circle knows you are not partaking this year; otherwise, things could become very awkward.
Find an Alternative to Holiday Gift Giving
Now, here is something that might work better for you if money is less the factor here. Our group of friends and family is very close, and there are currently 16 children in our immediate group. None of us is ever comfortable with the idea of not giving the kids gifts; we all want to buy for one another’s kids. However, we realized many years ago that in holiday gift giving to the adults, we were basically exchanging gifts cards in a major way. What we decided to do instead of spending hundreds of dollars on gift cards to the same place we all love so much, we’d just plan a night on which we all get sitters and meet one another for dinner at this particular restaurant and just pay for our own meals – since we were essentially doing that to begin with. It’s a really great alternative.
Give Back Instead of Giving Gifts
Holiday gift giving does not have to mean spending a ton of money at a store to buy a gift for someone. It could mean giving back in a different manner. If you have a family member that has a certain disease, perhaps you could make a donation to the research foundation for that. Perhaps you could give the gift of your time to someone you love by watching their kids, inviting them to dinner or cooking for them. Perhaps you could volunteer. You can do so many things that will make you feel really good about holiday gift giving this year that you might not even have thought about doing.
Give to Someone in Need
Here is something that I love, a lot. Instead of giving gifts to one another, let’s all do some holiday gift giving to those in need. How about agreeing to not give one another gifts, but to give a certain dollar amount (less than you’d usually spend so that you can still save money) to go in on something wonderful for someone else. Adopt a family whose house just burned down, or who has a member who went through something terrible and needs something useful, such as a wheelchair accessible home or vehicle. Do something for someone else, and that is going to make a huge difference in your life this holiday season.
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