I love the giving aspect of Christmas, because I love picking out the perfect gift for people. I put a lot of thought into each person and the things they like. The hunt for the perfect present is fun for me, so I don’t tend to stress too much this time of year. I know a lot of people do though, so I want to help you avoid getting gray hair from worrying about gift exchanges with a few tips:
1. Just because someone gives you a gift, doesn’t mean you have to give them one back. I have yet to make it through a Christmas season without receiving a surprise gift from someone in my life. My solution to that is to keep a few extra gifts, like a candle or bottle of wine, wrapped just in case. But you don’t have to do that! Sometimes people just give gifts because they really like it, and not because they expect something in return.
One year, I got a nice raise at the beginning of December. Then I found a really great sale and got a special gift for my mom and sisters for Christmas. The problem was that we had already agreed to draw names and only buy a gift for the person whose name you drew. When I pulled out the surprise gifts that I was so proud of, I could tell that everyone was a little upset with me. They loved the gifts, but I broke the rule and the end result was them feeling bad for not getting something for me. Here’s the thing though, I didn’t expect anything from them; I was just happy to be able to do something nice. Looking back though, I agree that I should have stuck to the plan. That brings me to my second tip:
2. Set guidelines ahead of time (and adhere to them). If you are close enough with someone who you would buy them a gift, then you are close enough to suggest that you not buy gifts without being too awkward. I have a lot of great friends in my life, but I don’t buy gifts for all of them every year. I can’t or I would go broke, and then they would have to let me sleep on their couches, and then they might not want to be my friend anymore. There have been years when life was so busy we knew that there wouldn’t be time to do much shopping and we agreed ahead of time that we wouldn’t get each other gifts. One year, my very pregnant friend told me that she just couldn’t run all over town shopping so she was making blankets for everyone. That was one of my favorite gifts, and I think of her every time I curl up with that blanket. You can decide to do homemade gifts, or set a price limit, or not buy gifts at all. But whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to talk to the other person! They might be just as stressed about spending all that money on you too.
3. Gift or tip? I’m going to leave this one to the etiquette expert. Emily Post has the rundown for holiday tipping.
4. Give gifts without expecting reciprocity and receive gifts with thanks and without expectations. Enjoy the season and the people in your life. Gifts are just the cherry on top, not the main course.
Do you have any etiquette tips I didn’t mention?
Day 5 will be here before you know it so check back!
The entire 25 Days of Gifts series is an intriguing read. See for yourself.