It’s that time a year again: everyone is headed off to malls and department stores to find great deals on gifts. There is a lot of pressure that comes with this time of year, specifically around the idea of gifting. Everyone wants to be the perfect gift-giver, but with so many people in our lives, it’s hard to find the perfect gift for every loved one.
I struggle with knowing which people I should be gifting. Beyond my immediate family, friends, and significant other, I also feel a need to gift to the next tier of people in my life. For instance, I brought gifts for everyone I worked with last year and in return received one gift from my close office friend. I’m not saying that I’m upset that I didn’t receive more gifts, but it seems as though it was unnecessary for me to spend money and time gifting all of my colleagues.
This scenario highlights a fundamental difference in how people think about gifting. For example, last year I discovered a difference between my significant other and myself. We spent tons of time going to malls looking for gifts for family members and friends and he said, “Do we need to get each other gifts this year since we are spending all this money? I’m fine without a gift, what do you think?” I said, “Absolutely not! Of course we’re getting each other gifts.” To him, the idea of not receiving a gift from me seemed practical. But I couldn’t stand the idea of not getting him a gift and vice versa. He didn’t mean this to hurt my feelings, he was just raised with a very different idea of gifting than myself.
For me, gifting is such a special experience for both parties. A good gift giver shows that they really know and understand what the gift receiver likes and appreciates. This is meaningful beyond just the gift because it validates the person’s connection to you. I think it’s important to gift throughout the year. I don’t mean that we need to get expensive, lavish gifts year-round, I just think it’s nice to give little things to remind our loved ones that we are thinking about them and that we care.
One thing I appreciated about my mother growing up was the little gifts she would bring us back from running errands. These things weren’t always huge gifts, but it showed that she was thinking about us and our needs in her day-to-day life. This is something I’ve tried to carry on into my adult life with those I’m close to. I will always be the person to memorize someone’s coffee order and pick up a cup of coffee for them on a particularly rough day. What is $2.00-$4.00 to me, means a lot to the receiver because it shows that I was thinking about him and acknowledging that he is having a tough time.
I think shifting our focus of gifting would help make this season a little less stressful. Rather than waiting all year and putting a ton of pressure on the holiday gifts, integrate small gifts throughout the year. This will challenge you to really get to know your loved ones and find out what they like and need. Not only will you build their appreciation of you, but you will also come to know them better and feel the sense of goodwill that comes with gifting this time of year. After the holidays pass and the decorations come down, remember that gifting doesn’t only exist within the confines of November-January. Carry that cheer throughout the year and see how it strengthens your interpersonal relationships.