Christmas Gift-Giving

Christmas presents
Christmas presents wrapped and under the tree.

It’s Christmas time. The season when we are focused on giving gifts to all of those who are important in our lives. But do we ever stop to examine our feelings about gift giving or even about how we feel about receiving presents? What emotions or memories are stirred from the past by the Christmas season? How do we feel about the people we are buying gifts for? What motivates us to give people those gifts? How much do we want to, or are able to spend for a gift?

We’ve all bought presents for people we did not consider an important part of our lives out of guilt, anxiety, or fear of being caught in an unreciprocated position. Are we giving because we have a true spirit of giving?

Holiday woes may include frustration over what to get someone. It’s difficult when you are excited about what you gave someone, when you see their response to the present is less than you had hoped. This is especially true while buying for our adult children. We may have no idea what they have or don’t have and we worry as we shop for something for them. This all may make you particularly less than eager to shop next year if your choice was not something they liked this year. But are we trying to relive the past by trying to surprise our offspring like we once did when they were little? Are we giving for ourselves or for them?

Sometimes we like to think we still know our progeny well enough that we would be able to get at least something they would like. Don’t forget they can exchange that present if you give them the receipt for your gift and be happier about your present. Giving a gift certificate or money may sometimes be the best option.

Why do we feel so much anxiety? Do we feel overwhelmed by the numbers of recipients for whom we want to buy presents and the fact that we can’t match our finances with what we really want to buy for them?  What if they give us something more costly than we gave them?

Those of us on Social Security and retirement funds have a not so “elastic” budget which is often stretched thin. How could we possibly match in value or cost, the presents from other loved ones who make much more money than we do?

Don’t worry so much! Cost shouldn’t matter. We need to put things in perspective and put away our pride or worry about how much our presents cost. We need to allow ourselves to give from our hearts. We need to realize that hopefully the recipients of our gifts are gracious enough to recognize that we gave the gift because we care for or love them and they will respond to that sentiment.

Gifts hopefully are expressions of love. We get so overwrought about what someone will think of our gifts that sometimes we lose the true meaning of the gift. A gift should warm our hearts and theirs because of the love we share and because we wanted to give them something. It’s the relationship that matters!!!!

Suggestions on choosing gifts

I enjoy searching for that special gift that fits with the person I care about. I like to walk around looking at everything with no ideas and an open mind. Sometimes I see an item that makes me think of someone. Often these gifts turn out to be just right for them. Sometimes I buy silly gifts just to remind them to laugh or keep their inner child alive. The decision is really up to you.

You know how much you can or should spend; who you are buying things for; and basically what they are interested in. Just keep an open mind while shopping. Also considering the variety of topics and types of books available. Books of humor, beauty, on cats or dogs, or airplanes or photography or whatever topic the person is interested in is almost always a good choice.

What about bosses and co workers?

I admit I never worked in an office but the best way to handle unforeseen gifts being given at work is a genuine comment of surprise and a grateful response or a batch of homemade treats.

Christmas Basket

Years ago my hospital’s unit secretary started a custom that I restarted in my next job. During the year I accumulated items costing $1-3 from various sources. Some of the basket contents were just little things from a dollar store. Some were cute, practical, humorous, useful or some things that I thought about buying for myself but decided not to.

The week before Christmas I walked around my hospital unit with a big red basket of these goodies and let people choose what they liked. Sometimes I made cookies and wrapped several for those who might not see anything they really wanted. Every year several would comment, “I was going to buy one of those but didn’t!” (Which made me feel really good!!) If I ran out of presents for the auxiliary staff, I could go out and get a few more of the items people seemed to respond the best to.

The year after I moved away from one hospital I happened to run into one of my previous coworkers. They actually told me they missed my Christmas Basket! This is a nice way of giving to neighbors, building residents, grandchildren or neighbor children.

Christmas Gingerbread House
Christmas Gingerbread House

Cooked goodies are always a winner

Face it, we don’t always know our neighbors well enough to know what they like and don’t like; have or don’t have. But baking fresh cookies, candy, Chex Mix or some simple thing you sewed, crocheted, or made makes a lovely, thoughtful gift. Whether they like it or not, at least you gave them the gift of your time and effort.

One other option

There are of course many more options. One I plan to do someday is a bit different. I am considering donating money to a worthy cause in the name of someone. There are many people needing food, clothing, shelter, and any number of items for survival.


No matter what you give someone or what you get, the giving is an expression of at least a warm relationship between two or more people. If you put that person in your mind and heart when you go out to brave the crowds this month, you will be led to get just the right present. Also if they don’t like what you bought them they can return it and exchange it for something they like better and it doesn’t mean you love them less or they love you less!!) Remember: “It’s the thought that counts!!”

19 thoughts on “Christmas Gift-Giving

  1. Receiving a Christmas present always makes me feel special. It is a reminder that someone has loving thoughts about me. So, for me, it doesn’t matter how big or small the present is that I give or receive because I hope that every recipient on my list feels the love I wrapped by presents in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny how you picked up on that word, “pride.” I think our culture of gift giving has become all about the ego of the person giving the gift. So many times I receive a gift from someone and they anxiously ask, “Did you like it?” and then panic if they think I did not. Or they might compare the gift I bought them with the one they bought me, and pick fault with their own choices. Why do we do this to ourselves? I have learned not to worry about Christmas. I buy things when I see them that are suitable for the intended recipients. If someone buys me a gift and I haven’t bought them one, then I accept the thoughtful gesture and let go of my need to respond. Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you responded and I brought forward a good point. Everyone should feel the same way, that we accept it gracefully without self recrimination over our “failure”. It’s all about the kindness of the other person. Merry Christmas or Season’s greetings!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m on the other end of the scale. My family doesn’t exchange gifts after age 18. However, that didn’t absolve me from gifting. My husband and I exchange 1 gift and I have a hard time figuring out what to get him. My stepkids live across the country so we send money even to the granddaughters (not real happy about that but at 13 they are delighted! I think kids should have presents). One of the more troublesome things was the last 5 years or so when I was working. One year I found myself buying over 20 gifts for work for people at all different levels. Argh! For my last Christmas I bought a case of fuzzy socks for lounging and gave all the women a pair. The guys got wine. Nothing was personal and at this point it was just a huge chore. For most of my life I worked for a very large company that had rules against gifts in the workplace. That was the best. On the last workday everyone brought in some sort of food. If you didn’t bake/cook you brought in bagels or pastries. If you liked to cook you could bring anything from a breakfast casserole to homemade cookies. I found that to be so much better than gifts. As for the gifts I received from co-workers, most got regifted or donated. I worked very hard to make sure my facial response was grateful and delighted. Each year I gift myself with something that I “do” on Christmas. Sometimes it’s a magazine with fabulous pictures and recipes and sometimes it’s a book. I sound like Scrooge but for a few years at work, I got people to donate whatever they would spend for gifts at work to a needy co-worker undergoing severe health issues. For me donating is Christmas.


    1. Kate, I totally agree! My sons are married, so I give them something I figure out or are given hints to from their wives. I feel guilty sometimes that I can’t buy presents for my three nephews, and one niece and their total of about ten great nephews and nieces. They all live from the west coast to the east coast and I rarely if ever get to see any of them. But they are still family.
      Since I retired, giving to coworkers is a moot point. I totally agree with donating to worthy causes. They need the money more than most of my family does. i thought about sending a donation in my kids’ names but then they might get all of the mail that I do to donate to a gazillion worthy causes. e just have to focus on the family near us and the causes we hold dearest.
      For my present to me, I am taking belly dancing classes!! It is good for my back, now that it is more stable, gives me exercise in a fun non repetitive way and I meet new people
      i always enjoy your thoughtful comments, Kate. Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

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