How not to Stress Over Gift Giving

How not to Stress Over Gift Giving

Tips for the Most Authentic Gift-Giving Season

Holiday Shopping and gift-giving should be exciting but can also be a daunting, stressful, and anxiety-ridden task. For some people, gift-giving can cause anxiety beyond the expected norm associated with this holiday tradition.

Why is the process so stressful for some people?

We all have that person that gives fantastic gifts. They just seem to get it right every year. They pick the perfect gift for you, one you never would have chosen for yourself, but when you get it. It was exactly what you wanted or needed. And they seem to be able to do it with what appears to be minimal effort or stress.  

If it makes you feel better, the perfect gift giver is not the norm. In fact, it is more normal to feel anxious about gift-giving.   Most of the anxiety stems from trying to measure up to other people’s expectations and the expectations you have placed on yourself. You may hang over every body movement or expression of the gift recipient, looking for clues of their excitement or disappointment. What if they don’t like it? What if they already have one?

Approach Gift Giving Differently this holiday

Focus more on the act of giving rather than the gift itself. To give someone something means that you care enough about them. It means they matter to you. Do not make excuses for your gift before they even open it. “ I hope you like it,” “If you have one, we can return it,” or “I did not know what to get you.” Instead, if you need to say anything, say, “You matter to me, so I wanted to give you something to show I care about your  

Don’t go to the mall or search internet shopping sites for the perfect gift. Before purchasing gifts, take the time to sort it out in your head first. Write the names of each person you are buying for this year. Next to their name, write down what that person means to you. Write down one or more memorable moments with that person. Write down as many things as you can that they like. Nothing is too silly. If they like strawberry ice cream, write it down. You may find that the smallest things they like will make the perfect gift.   If they like to travel, get them a travel magazine with a subscription.   If they love to cook, get them a cute apron with a funny slogan. Suppose they like wine; up the ante and get them a special bottle of wine or their favourite wine with fun corkscrews and wine stoppers. You will get the hang of it if you associate the gift with what your person likes.

Purchase your gift out of love for the other person, not out of obligation. It is much easier to make a gift purchase if you think of your relationship with that person and give them something meaningful based on your relationship—a small gesture of a memorable photo or a bag of their favourite candy


Your gifts do not have to be extravagant; they just have to have some meaning. You may find that re-focusing your energy on how to show them your love rather than what to buy them will help you to feel less anxious about their reaction.

Gift-giving can get expensive and cause financial worry. If spending money is a concern, set a budget and stick to it. Take the funds out of your bank account that you have for gift giving and stay on budget. If your financial situation is tight this year, your friends and family most likely already know this and are not expecting you to break the bank to buy them a gift. Remember, the gesture of love is what matters. Find a poem online that speaks to your relationship with them and write it on a card. Or purchase two movie tickets taped to a bag of popcorn if they are movie fans.  

Change the entire dynamic of the holiday this year and shift the focus to creating non-materialist traditions. You could invite friends for a movie night every holiday season or have a traditional cookie-baking day where you all bake and swap cookies. These may not work for a group of men, but every holiday getting together with the boys over hockey or shooting pool can also be an annual tradition.

Just say no to gift giving this year- If you are not emotionally connected to the person you are gifting, why give them a gift? Giving someone a gift out of obligation will likely fall flat for both of you. You have stressed yourself out by buying for someone you do not really want to or know well enough to purchase for, and their displeasure of receiving a gift with no meaning to them will most likely be apparent. Instead, politely decline the gift-giving for this year. You can say, “rather than gift-giving, why don’t we plan to get together for coffee and get better acquainted. You can also say I appreciate you in my life, but for this year, let’s forgo gift-giving”.

Do not purchase a gift just because they gave you one. Doing so may leave you resentful. If someone gave you a gift, hopefully, it is because they are fond of you. You do not need to reciprocate unless you feel authentic toward that person. Don’t apologize for not having a gift for them. Thank them for the gift, show appreciation and maybe slip in an element of surprise “wow, I was not expecting anything from you. How can I show my appreciation?”

Keep things in perspective. Holidays are imperfect, and if you accept that sometimes you will get it right and other times you may miss the mark, you can relax and enjoy gift-giving and receiving a bit more this holiday. If anyone that received a gift from you is ungrateful, remove them from your list in the future and let it go

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