- One expectation of the holiday season is the act of giving: both giving money to charities and philanthropic causes and giving gifts to those in your own life.
- Giving gifts can be a meaningful exchange of resources to display for others that you value them. They can also become a point of stress in couples, friendships, families, and workplaces.
- How can you approach gift giving differently this season? In a way that acknowledges your means and capacity and acknowledges the recipient.
Take a moment to access your memory. Think back to the best gift that you ever received. Whether that gift was something material, immaterial – like time, energy, thoughtfulness – or something else. Ask yourself: What made this gift so meaningful to me? Why do I remember this gift so prominently? Look beyond the purpose that gift served for you, consider the meaning behind who gave it, how and when and why it was given to you.
Gift giving has become an expectation of the holiday season: both giving money to charities and philanthropic causes and giving gifts to those in your own life. While one could argue the inherent role that capitalism has played in shaping America gift culture, that is not what this blog post is about. Rather, it is about interrogating your individual gift giving practices, acknowledging what works and what does not, and re-envisioning how gifting can be a transformative experience for both ourselves and the recipients of our gifts.
There is something powerful about choosing to give a gift to another person. This power can sometimes become hidden behind holiday expectations, behind tempting sales that preach “50% off the perfect gift for her!”, and behind seemingly never ending to-do lists that accompany the holiday season. This season, challenge yourself to rediscover the why behind your personal gift giving. Let the why guide your gift giving practices.
Here are some tips for how to approach gift giving in a different way:
- Consider your capacity. Consider your finances and your energy. Align the gift giving that you want to do with that capacity. This will aid in the process of giving genuine and meaningful gifts.
- Sharing vs. Surprising. While there can be value in surprising someone with a gift, consider sharing your ideas with your intended recipient and gauge the impact that this gift would have on their life. Giving doesn’t exist without receiving, so make an effort to include the recipient’s input in how you give this year.
- Liberate Giving From the Holiday Season. Alleviate some pressure around giving gifts during the holidays by integrating gratitude and giving throughout your year. You can start this off by giving a gift this holiday season that has “extended release potential” – for example, an experiential gift, a gift that sets up a future gift, etc. Interrogate why giving around the holiday season holds different meaning for you and your recipients, rather than assuming that it does.
Like most things in life, boundaries are an important factor of giving and receiving gifts. Navigate the holiday season with clear boundaries and clarify the boundaries of those in your life. Allow giving gifts to be the meaningful display and/or exchange that it truly can be.
Author: Rachel Levy, LLMSW
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*This blog was created with the help of Anton Babushkin
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