Yeah, call me the Grinch, whatever, but the holiday season isn’t always a fun time of the year. Please don’t take me as being a whiny person, but why give a gift if you don’t like someone or you know that the person isn’t even going to appreciate it.
For me, I want my money to serve a purpose. A positive one actually. So if I’m spending gifts out of obligation, guilt or other similar emotions, I won’t do it.
Of course, that may not be the case for you. Maybe your spouse or partner may not feel the same way. Maybe there are a few parties you want to go to that encourages gift giving. Stuff like that. I totally get it.
But think about how much all that gift giving is going to cost you in terms of time, money and energy. If you love spending money on other people that’s fine (and totally no judgement here!)
I’m not perfect either, but I have found that when I get into a funk during the holidays, using the following three tips puts me back on track:
Scrutinize Your Intentions
If you’re into eastern philosophy at all, you’ve probably come across this concept a lot. The idea is that even though you may be doing the right thing, if your intentions aren’t pure, the energy you put into that action will come back. I guess you can call it karma if you will.
To put that in more practical terms, it means that if you’re buying a gift out of guilt, then that guilt will return back to you. You’ll then feel even more guilty as the holiday season is in full effect because there are so many people you could be buying gifts for. You may even start to resent all this gift giving and/or receiving gifts because people may also be buying gifts out of guilt and not caring about whether you like it or not.
I hate to admit this but I’ve given gift cards a few times out of guilt. I hated every minute of the whole process. I love putting thought into anything I do because I want to set the intention that all actions are motivated by positivity. And yes, it was those times when I didn’t give a crap about gift giving and wanted to buy no presents for christmas that I literally got presents that I ended up either returning or re-gifting.
One other part of gift giving that I know people are guilty of (including myself many times in the past) is you carry an expectation with your gift. Some of us like to purchase expensive gifts in the hopes that someone will like us more. Some even do so to brag about how much money they have. In turn, the person receiving the gift ends up not giving a hoot about the gift, or you don’t get the reaction you thought you’d get.
It’s not fun to think about these not so appeal parts of our personalities. However, if you want to get on track with better spending habits, you need to take a hard look at yourself and see what’s going on. I hated having to admit the terrible things I was doing with my money but I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in if it wasn’t for those uncomfortable times.
No, I do not mean getting into a fight. I’m talking about going for a walk or getting some exercise. Sometimes the madness of the holidays is too much for anyone to handle, so it’s a good idea to take a break. For me, I find doing yoga really helps me face extra challenging times. Even five to ten minutes of stretching and breathing helps me calm down and ready to face the task at hand.
Are you worn out so much so that you’re ready to cave in and buy everything in sight? Or you mindlessly purchase gifts because you’re tired of feeling guilty all the time? Then it’s the perfect time to step away from it all and do some exercise.
Seriously, you’d be surprised at how much better you feel even taking a short walk. It’ll also help you get happier so you don’t need to feed into those negative emotions to feel better.
Practice Saying No Without Saying No
No, this isn’t a way to avoid doing something uncomfortable or be passive aggressive with people. There are ways to divert the need to say no outright. Instead of feeling obligated to buy a gift when heading to a party, just don’t go to the party. Or if someone gives you a gift and you feel bad you didn’t get them anything, just thank them graciously and offer to buy them coffee one day.
If you’re feeling weird about it, just know that most people aren’t even paying attention to what you’re doing. Most are probably worried themselves during the holiday season to even notice (or care frankly) if you said no to an invite or a gift exchange.
And if it’s your family? Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and find ways to not buy gifts. But then again, assuming you have a great relationship with your family, you can still give gifts. They’ll understand if you choose not to or not opt into such expensive options. My family has a tradition where we hold off on buying things just so a family member can purchase them. We know what each other bought so that there are no surprises and there’s no drama around the gifts.
At the end of the day, how you feel during the holidays (or any other time of the year for that matter) is totally up to you. Feeling guilty may come naturally to you, but it doesn’t have to. Practice saying no often so you can say yes to things that feel good, inside and out.