Are You a Gift Giving Scrooge?

I like Christmas, but I don’t like the gift giving.  You heard me clearly, I’m a Scrooge.

It’s not that I’m opposed to gift giving in its entirety, but let’s be real the Christmas giving is out of control. Here are some ways to help you cross some people off your list.

You’re welcome.

Obligatory Giving

You gave me a gift so I must give you a gift.

Last week the parent’s chatter outside my daughter’s ballet class unleashed the proverbial: Do you have all your shopping finished?

My answer is short and sweet, yes.

A couple in the conversation hashed out the list, a never-ending list of family, friends and obligatory people to gift.

When someone gives a gift, the only string attached is a response of gratitude. A good recipient isn’t obligated to extend himself beyond genuine appreciation.

My kids lack the means to purchase anything of monetary value for me. If I spend hundreds of dollars on them, I can’t expect more than a sweet token of their affection but this does not stop me from buying them gifts. I delight in their happiness and appreciation of the gift.

Pure gifts are pure joy to the giver and receiver.

Guilt Giving

The sister of obligatory giving.

Included in the ballet couples list was a decent amount of guilt giving. If we give a gift to him than we must have something for her. People feel guilty when they don’t give a gift. Sometimes necessitated by a social construct, other times its simply because we don’t want to hurt a person’s feelings.

I’m all for protecting hearts, especially when the ability to do so is within our control, but within a circle of friends offering a gift to everyone is probably not an option. If you’re trying to protect a heart, simply give the gift in private.

What if a gift is given to the person beside you and you’re left empty-handed?

Be gracious and put your selfish nature aside and join along in the joy of the receiver.

Our Son turned seven last fall and his four-year old sister was by his side as he opened his gifts. Every gift he opened she squealed with delight as much as he did. “WOW Will!” she’d say. He even allowed her to tear the paper. Both thoroughly enjoyed the process. She didn’t get as much as a single Lego brick out of the situation, but she added to his pleasure and had fun. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to do the same.

Frivolous Giving

Giving gone wild.

This may rub me the most because I hate debt, the ultimate peace thief. My sophomore year of college I ran up credit card debt. That $2,000 owned me. It kept me up at night and felt like an evil twin always by my side that nearly prevented me from pursuing the degree I needed. It was a very inexpensive way to learn a valuable life lesson about financial freedom and peace.

The size of your shopping list will ebb and flow and that’s okay. Don’t get caught-up in the giving frenzy. Give consciously; receive graciously.  Know who is on your list and why. Be certain of how much money you have to spend on gifts and stick to it.

My husband and I have been through financial highs and lows. I remember one year we managed to give the grandparents photos of our kids because I found a coupon to have them printed for free. (You may have stories of creativity and survival from the Great Economic Collapse.)  Guess what, the grandparents didn’t balk at our cheap gift.

We don’t prove the value of a relationship or level of success by the things we give, those shine through by how we choose to live and treat others day by day. The best gifts we have to offer are those we give year-round in the small gestures we do to care for each other.

Give yourself permission to reevaluate your giving and the freedom to live within your means.



2 responses to “Are You a Gift Giving Scrooge?

  1. I feel ya sister. We did away with obligated gift giving last year. It was hard for our families to understand at first, but I think that it has produced a freedom for people this year that they are actually enjoying.

    There are several cautions that go along with making this move though that I feel like it might be helpful to mention.

    #1 When you put the kibosh on obligated giving, don’t make it a condition that others do the same. Trying to control the way your family and friends do giving can make them resentful and takes away some of their freedom to enjoy the season. We just told people that we did not expect to get gifts and left the rest up to them.

    #2 When you take out the hustle and bustle of shopping for everyone at Christmas time, you need to fill that void with something else to avoid getting your Charlie Brown on. For us this meant doing an advent calendar with reading in the kid’s bible and doing a fun activity every day. It puts meaning into a season that would otherwise lose its significance without all the giving. We have found that this year Christmas feels more like Christmas than ever before. 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! ❤

    • Allisen- Thanks so much for your additional input. I was so frustrated by so many people overwhelmed by checking off the gift, food and to-do lists that I forgot we filled the time in similar ways! There is so much time when we adjust our priorities! I really like how you handled the giving with family and friends. Hope your Christmas was merry and that the year ahead is full of blessings!

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