Buying gifts should be simple, but the weeks leading up to Christmas seem to cause so much stress for many people.
Budgets are stretched to breaking point as credit cards are filled up, and the amount of trips to shopping centres and cities that are required is seemingly endless – beginning long before December, and not complete until hours before Christmas day itself.
Whether due to poor planning, or difficulty in getting the perfect gift, the high streets are filled with frantic shoppers fighting against the clock as they aim to finish things in time.
Here’s some tips that may help alleviate some of the stresses that can come with Christmas shopping.
1. Have an idea of what you plan to buy – and don’t go overboard. It might be tempting to add one little extra thing for one person, but that quickly turns into something extra for everyone – just to make sure that the value spent on each person is exactly the same.
2. Buy only for who you want to – and ignore any family politics that places an unspoken pressure on you to buy for others out of duty alone.
3. Spend only what you can afford to – and and choose to. As above, resist the temptation to adhere to pressure to spend more than you can comfortably afford. The intended recipient may well return a gift to you of greater value, but if that’s the case, then it should be assumed that they themselves are comfortably able to do that – and that they genuinely want to spend such an amount. If either of those things aren’t the case, that’s their problem – and not your responsibility to conform to their expectations.
4. Don’t expect something back from someone who you have bought for. This ties in with the above, but from the other person’s perspective. Everyone has differing finances, financial commitments and priorities. Throw in the matter of different sizes of families, in-laws and all, and there’s infinite combinations of factors why one person is happy and able to spend money, and another is not. It shouldn’t necessarily be taken personally.
5. Don’t lose sight of the enjoyment of buying gifts for loved ones, and seeing them happy to receive the gifts. If shopping for gifts seems like a never-ending chore, you’re probably best to choose a different approach in future. Either buy differently, such as a gift voucher, or consider not buying anything at all if it really is a burden. Retailers may not thank you, nor would a Government which seems to think that getting everyone out and into the shops is the be-all and end-all of the economy, but you’ll probably be less stressed, and perhaps sleep better.
Regardless of whether Christmas is celebrated for religious reasons, or as a time for getting together with family and friends, preparing for it should never leave you weary. So get organized, get sensible, live within your means, and make it a memorable time to enjoy!