Written by Sara Jane Breault
Monday, December 2nd, 2019
The holiday season is defined in our collective imagination by the exchange of gifts. A smiling family in their pyjamas opening presents while, outside, snow falls gently from the sky is a classic vignette. Reality, though, is a completely different story: last-minute shopping, keeping an up-to-date Pinterest chart called “Gift Ideas for the Babysitter", managing expectations and your budget, and so on. In a nutshell, it's exhausting!
More and more, a new school of thought is emerging:
Why not stop the craziness of giving everyone around us a present?
I, myself, had this thought a few years ago. I detest shopping, so the whole experience was becoming an increasingly heavy burden—both mentally and financially—with every passing year. My family and I decided to put an end to the tradition for the following reasons.
An Alternative to Giving Presents…
My mother is a teacher and, every holiday season, students traditionally give their teacher a small present. My mother was always very grateful for the kind gesture. However, I do remember the heavily scented soaps hidden in the bottom of a cupboard because their scent didn't suit her. While she was touched by the thought, the soap was never used. I'm convinced that everyone could give me an example of something they've received that was never used.
When we give a present, we hope that the recipient will enjoy it… except that's not always the case. Rather than giving something that'll only end up hidden away or cluttering the recipient's home, why not opt for a lovely card and a tray of homemade brownies?
After all, who doesn't love brownies?!
If Giving Puts You in the Hole…
Your financial situation may not allow you to be as generous as you'd like. But the pressure is on, so why not follow “everyone's" lead and whip out the credit card, right?
Hang on a second.
Christmas is a time of peace and serenity. If your mind isn't at peace when thinking of your savings account, then let's just say your holiday season is off to a bad start.
While you may feel embarrassed to admit that you can't afford to buy gifts for everyone this year, most people around you may be much more supportive than you think.
But What About the Joy of Giving?
During the holidays, we all wish to see people around us light up with joy—and a gift is often the fastest way to make that happen. Unfortunately, the joy of giving gets a bit lost in the holiday shopping frenzy.
The good news is that giving presents isn't the only way to bring joy to others. Why not bring in coffee for your colleagues? Babysit the neighbours' kids for a few hours? Or maybe help your uncle with something he needs done?
Be There For Your Friends and Family
It's often said that time is money. Instead of exchanging your time for money so you can buy a mountain of stuff this year, skip a step! Give your time and attention instead.
Give it some thought the next time the office social committee suggests having a gift exchange: might there not be another way to celebrate the holidays than giving yet another “Best Boss in the World" mug?
I think so… and perhaps you do, too!