There are people who are natural gift-givers. They shop ahead of time and find unique items for loved ones that are received with “I have been wanting *this* for years! How did you know?”
That is not me. I am no stranger to the stress of gift-giving. I remember my mom and dad taking my sister and me to the Dollar Store to pick out gifts for grandparents and each other when we were little, and I remember feeling paralyzed with indecision and self-imposed pressure to pick out the “Just what I always wanted” gift.
But as I grew up, I worked my gift-giving muscle like some people work their abs. I have yet to get the six-pack, but I achieved more confidence and eliminated the panic. After having our first child, similar to my real abs, my gifting “abs” needed major attention in the giving and receiving department.
“What do I do with all these things that people send to show their love and excitement about a new little kidlet entering the world?” I thought to myself. “How do we raise our daughters to value the spirit of the holidays and not the gifts and stuff that comes along with it?”
The lessons we learned about healthy holiday gifting and receiving in that first year of parenthood I still apply today.
I start the gifting season by taking inventory. What do we use? What don’t we use? What toys have the kids outgrown or lost interest in?
Starting with a clean slate is a great way to clear your mind and house in preparation for anything coming in. It is also a fantastic way to donate your unused goods to people or places that can find uses for them. My girls love this. They are always excited to know that the toys they had fun with are going to a new family that will have more fun with them. Knowing what you have and use makes knowing what you want to bring into your home much easier.
Make lots of lists
Once my inventory is done, I make lists … lots of lists. Lists of who you need to buy for, things they are asking for and things you are asking for.
We have our kids make a list of things they like to do instead of things they want, and send it off to family and any friends asking what to buy them. This way the focus is on activities and spending time with people instead of things. It also lets family and friends know what they are interested in without giving them a shopping list.
Then decide on what’s being sent, made or hand-delivered. Mark your calendar and plan out your trips. Setting priority to tasks will help you pair down your list and help you avoid making a pie to take to a friends house in four days before you send out your nephew’s gifts that needs a week to arrive.
Use gift guides
The season is filled with gift guides everywhere you turn, I love using these! Particularly handy for the tricky “they have everything” person on your list. Check your favorite individual blogs or brands to see if they’ve put together a gift guide. Even if you don’t end up purchasing something on the list, what they’ve pulled might spark some inspiration.
There aren’t many, if any, guides on how to receive gifts. It is a muscle we haven’t worked and stretched as much.
In our analogy, if giving is the abs, let’s make receiving the biceps. Flex those bulging bad boys and get them ready to hold your arms up and grab whatever or whoever is coming at you. Enthusiastically embrace your friends, family and whatever they are giving you. It isn’t shocking that in the end it is not about the things but rather the experience that matters.
Don’t get too caught up in the whole gifting process
The most important lesson I learned on how to have a healthy attitude about gifting is to take action. Do things during the holiday season that have nothing to do with gifts.
Schedule your normal workouts and family activities. Keeping as close to your regular routine can help keep your stress levels in check. Just don’t stress about sticking to a strict schedule – flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to the holidays. That said, don’t be afraid to try new things. Find a local coffee shop, grab some hot chocolate and walk around looking at the holiday decorations. Go to your favorite summer park or beach and see how different it is in the winter. Look up a new ski or sledding hill, pack up a winter picnic and go shred some gnar.
What are you doing to practice healthy holiday gift giving and receiving this season?