12 Days to Christmas!
Are you still in the Christmas gift frenzy? Are you running around trying to find the perfect gift for every person on your list?
While it is an old tradition to give each other gifts (you can read its history here) the gift giving how we know it today is a relatively new idea. We put a lot of time and money into finding something for everyone.
As Wikipedia states: "In the early 2000s it has been estimated that shoppers in the U.S. alone spend over $4 billion each day during the Christmas shopping season, with an average individual spending over $1,000 on gifts" and racking up (more) credit card debt. But get this:
80% of recipients are unhappy with their Christmas Gift!
This is a lot of money and a lot of wasted time considering, that only roughly 20% of recipients are happy with what they've gotten. Get this (also according to Wikipedia) "A 2016 European survey found that
- 25% of recipients were unhappy about their gifts or could not remember them, and
- similar amount re-gifted them to someone else,
- 14% sold the items,
- 10% tried to return them to the store, and
- 5% had given the gifts back to the giver."
Such a gift, that you feel the obligation to keep and possibly even display in your house, has become clutter the minute you've got it. Well, actually it became clutter the minute the giver has purchased it for you.
Let's turn it around.
If you are the giver, do you really want to give something just to have given something? Wouldn't you feel bad knowing that your gift might become clutter in the other persons home and life? That it might become a burden and stressful because the recipient feels they have to pretend they like it?
Would you really want to spend your hard earned money on something that doesn't spark joy, or uplifts your husband, wife, aunt, uncle, cousin, best friend or office colleague?
Even worse, do you really want to spend your most precious commodity, your time, to stress around in the pre-Christmas craziness to find a gift that then is not appreciated and loved in the end?
You might have the very best intentions to really find something that you think the recipient will love. But the longer you search the more tired you get and in the end, you will settle for something just to have something.
Often a basket of toiletries, or a box of chocolates, or what also seems very popular is some coffee mug filled with sweets.
The toiletries might not be what your recipient usually uses, and might also be full of chemicals. The chocolates might interfere with your friends' diet and eating habits and the hideous coffee mug doesn't go well with the rest of the china in the house and will clutter up the kitchen cupboards without ever being used.
If you only get one of these gifts a year, that might be ok, but depending on how big your family is and what the tradition is amongst your work colleagues you could end up with dozens of such gifts that you don't enjoy and that will weigh you down because now you need to find somewhere to put them.
What was supposed to be a gift became a burden, and it's cluttering up your house and life.
Is Money the perfect Christmas gift?
That's why a lot of people think to give money (or gift cards) is the perfect gift. But just imagine we all would give each other money. How silly is it, that you would give some of your hard earned money just to receive some other hard earned money back.
Also, what is the right amount? If you give $20 but you get $30 back you feel bad and stingy. If you give $30 but only get $20 back you feel betrayed and like you wasted $10.
Not ideal in my eyes either, so what could be a good Christmas gift if you feel you really need to give one?
Your most precious commodity is time
If you give somebody the gift of your time, that's actually the highest gift you can give. How about you invite them to spend a day with you doing something fun, something you are both interested in. You could make some good memories that last a lifetime.
These kinds of gifts don't only spark joy once but several times. First, when you give it, second joy is the anticipation and excitement to spend time together, then (third) the actual time you do spend together and afterward, you both have the good memories.
So why aren't not more people giving the gift of time?
Why don't people spend the time they are running around finding the right gift instead of thinking what nice memories they could create with their loved ones? I think one of the reasons is that we all feel we are way too busy.
Unconsciously we do realize that time is our most precious commodity and we feel we don't have enough to give some as a gift. It seems so much easier to just find a gift to give and the duty is done.
That's exactly why I don't want any gifts. I'd rather spend time with people, go to some Christmas Lights Festival or a concert, or on a memorable horseback ride. Something that we do together, something we create memories together.
That is the kind of (Christmas) gift I love. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite (Christmas) gift is.