Adjust Your Outlook on Holiday Spending

Reviewed Nov 2, 2022

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Summary

Look at every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes.

As the holiday season approaches, spend a little time before the parties and hubbub to think through your gift-giving intentions and how you plan to pay for it all.

Doing so will keep you from overspending, which can happen easily when you wait until the last minute, and the associated financial stress (perhaps you’ll reduce the recipients’ stress as well by relieving pressure to reciprocate in kind). You also will ensure that the gifts you give truly show your loved ones and friends just how special and meaningful they are to you. Try this step-by-step approach:

Create a holiday gift list and budget

Jot down the names of the people in your life whom you intend to remember with a gift this holiday. Be very thorough to avoid unforeseen expenses. Consider children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, babysitters, service providers, your mail carrier, teachers, etc.

Next, determine how much money you would like to spend on each person. Add it up. Are you surprised by the sum? For many people, the surprise of holiday spending often is only realized 1 or 2 months later, when the bills begin to appear in the mail. Don’t let this happen to you.

Adjust your outlook on spending

Now, revisit every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes. By adjusting your outlook on spending, you will reduce your own holiday stress and potentially avoid the escalating spending that can occur among friends and family members. As you consider each gift recipient, keep these pointers in mind:

Don’t assume that expensive gifts are the only way to show your feelings of fondness, affection or appreciation. A gift of your time can be particularly meaningful, particularly to those who “have everything and need nothing.” Think outside the box, and you may be surprised by the heartfelt, budget-friendly ideas you come up with. For example:

  • Make and freeze a few portion-size meals for an older neighbor or relative. Gift wrap the menus, such as “lasagna, salad and French bread.” Such a gift is not only thoughtful and inexpensive, but also will make life easier for the recipient.
  • Put together a book of family recipes for a younger relative who is newly on her own.

Suggest alternative or collective gift-giving ideas:

  • For teachers, consider approaching the class parent or taking the initiative yourself to suggest that interested families contribute to a collective class gift—perhaps a gift certificate to a local shopping mall. If each family gives about $5, the teacher will receive a sizeable and practical token of the class’s appreciation, and likely, you will spend less than if you did something on your own.
  • For extended families, instead of buying a gift for each individual, suggest randomly picking names so that each family member shops for 1 person only. Rather than spending $5 to $10 on 15 different people ($75-$150), you can spend $50 on something very personal for that 1 individual.
  • If you exchange small gifts among a group of friends, suggest you forgo gifts and instead together indulge in dessert at a fancy restaurant.

Examine your motives. What are your reasons for spending more lavishly on certain people? In some cases, you may find your motives unhealthy. For example, you may spend more on someone because you feel guilty for not seeing enough of the person over the past year. In such a case, a good gift would be one that expresses your care for that person and a desire to be together: Wrap up some popcorn kernels and a pair of movie coupons with a note saying, “Looking forward to some time together.”

Shop ’til you drop—or not

Keep a list of your intended giftees in your wallet, so that you can jot down ideas as they come up and take advantage of sale prices throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to spend the holiday season shopping ’til you drop, but instead, you can enjoy time with friends and family.

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

Look at every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes.

As the holiday season approaches, spend a little time before the parties and hubbub to think through your gift-giving intentions and how you plan to pay for it all.

Doing so will keep you from overspending, which can happen easily when you wait until the last minute, and the associated financial stress (perhaps you’ll reduce the recipients’ stress as well by relieving pressure to reciprocate in kind). You also will ensure that the gifts you give truly show your loved ones and friends just how special and meaningful they are to you. Try this step-by-step approach:

Create a holiday gift list and budget

Jot down the names of the people in your life whom you intend to remember with a gift this holiday. Be very thorough to avoid unforeseen expenses. Consider children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, babysitters, service providers, your mail carrier, teachers, etc.

Next, determine how much money you would like to spend on each person. Add it up. Are you surprised by the sum? For many people, the surprise of holiday spending often is only realized 1 or 2 months later, when the bills begin to appear in the mail. Don’t let this happen to you.

Adjust your outlook on spending

Now, revisit every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes. By adjusting your outlook on spending, you will reduce your own holiday stress and potentially avoid the escalating spending that can occur among friends and family members. As you consider each gift recipient, keep these pointers in mind:

Don’t assume that expensive gifts are the only way to show your feelings of fondness, affection or appreciation. A gift of your time can be particularly meaningful, particularly to those who “have everything and need nothing.” Think outside the box, and you may be surprised by the heartfelt, budget-friendly ideas you come up with. For example:

  • Make and freeze a few portion-size meals for an older neighbor or relative. Gift wrap the menus, such as “lasagna, salad and French bread.” Such a gift is not only thoughtful and inexpensive, but also will make life easier for the recipient.
  • Put together a book of family recipes for a younger relative who is newly on her own.

Suggest alternative or collective gift-giving ideas:

  • For teachers, consider approaching the class parent or taking the initiative yourself to suggest that interested families contribute to a collective class gift—perhaps a gift certificate to a local shopping mall. If each family gives about $5, the teacher will receive a sizeable and practical token of the class’s appreciation, and likely, you will spend less than if you did something on your own.
  • For extended families, instead of buying a gift for each individual, suggest randomly picking names so that each family member shops for 1 person only. Rather than spending $5 to $10 on 15 different people ($75-$150), you can spend $50 on something very personal for that 1 individual.
  • If you exchange small gifts among a group of friends, suggest you forgo gifts and instead together indulge in dessert at a fancy restaurant.

Examine your motives. What are your reasons for spending more lavishly on certain people? In some cases, you may find your motives unhealthy. For example, you may spend more on someone because you feel guilty for not seeing enough of the person over the past year. In such a case, a good gift would be one that expresses your care for that person and a desire to be together: Wrap up some popcorn kernels and a pair of movie coupons with a note saying, “Looking forward to some time together.”

Shop ’til you drop—or not

Keep a list of your intended giftees in your wallet, so that you can jot down ideas as they come up and take advantage of sale prices throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to spend the holiday season shopping ’til you drop, but instead, you can enjoy time with friends and family.

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

Look at every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes.

As the holiday season approaches, spend a little time before the parties and hubbub to think through your gift-giving intentions and how you plan to pay for it all.

Doing so will keep you from overspending, which can happen easily when you wait until the last minute, and the associated financial stress (perhaps you’ll reduce the recipients’ stress as well by relieving pressure to reciprocate in kind). You also will ensure that the gifts you give truly show your loved ones and friends just how special and meaningful they are to you. Try this step-by-step approach:

Create a holiday gift list and budget

Jot down the names of the people in your life whom you intend to remember with a gift this holiday. Be very thorough to avoid unforeseen expenses. Consider children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, babysitters, service providers, your mail carrier, teachers, etc.

Next, determine how much money you would like to spend on each person. Add it up. Are you surprised by the sum? For many people, the surprise of holiday spending often is only realized 1 or 2 months later, when the bills begin to appear in the mail. Don’t let this happen to you.

Adjust your outlook on spending

Now, revisit every name on your list and consider alternate or more modest ways to express your holiday good wishes. By adjusting your outlook on spending, you will reduce your own holiday stress and potentially avoid the escalating spending that can occur among friends and family members. As you consider each gift recipient, keep these pointers in mind:

Don’t assume that expensive gifts are the only way to show your feelings of fondness, affection or appreciation. A gift of your time can be particularly meaningful, particularly to those who “have everything and need nothing.” Think outside the box, and you may be surprised by the heartfelt, budget-friendly ideas you come up with. For example:

  • Make and freeze a few portion-size meals for an older neighbor or relative. Gift wrap the menus, such as “lasagna, salad and French bread.” Such a gift is not only thoughtful and inexpensive, but also will make life easier for the recipient.
  • Put together a book of family recipes for a younger relative who is newly on her own.

Suggest alternative or collective gift-giving ideas:

  • For teachers, consider approaching the class parent or taking the initiative yourself to suggest that interested families contribute to a collective class gift—perhaps a gift certificate to a local shopping mall. If each family gives about $5, the teacher will receive a sizeable and practical token of the class’s appreciation, and likely, you will spend less than if you did something on your own.
  • For extended families, instead of buying a gift for each individual, suggest randomly picking names so that each family member shops for 1 person only. Rather than spending $5 to $10 on 15 different people ($75-$150), you can spend $50 on something very personal for that 1 individual.
  • If you exchange small gifts among a group of friends, suggest you forgo gifts and instead together indulge in dessert at a fancy restaurant.

Examine your motives. What are your reasons for spending more lavishly on certain people? In some cases, you may find your motives unhealthy. For example, you may spend more on someone because you feel guilty for not seeing enough of the person over the past year. In such a case, a good gift would be one that expresses your care for that person and a desire to be together: Wrap up some popcorn kernels and a pair of movie coupons with a note saying, “Looking forward to some time together.”

Shop ’til you drop—or not

Keep a list of your intended giftees in your wallet, so that you can jot down ideas as they come up and take advantage of sale prices throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to spend the holiday season shopping ’til you drop, but instead, you can enjoy time with friends and family.

By Christine P. Martin

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  

 

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