Thursday, January 20, 2011

Holiday Shopping is a New Game of Chicken

Thinking about the recent holiday this weekend has given me a bit of perspective regarding gift giving. Something that I had forgotten until I was recently reminded is how very much people really fill up their emptiness with the shopping and busyiness of the holiday season. I had a conversation with family members recently to reiterate the importance of a reasonable (read small) amount of gifts. For some reason, no matter how much I stress this, there is always resistance. I find the whole ritual can be somewhat frustrating. Gift giving becomes a stressful game of chicken with often little more than wasted money and hurt feelings.

Now that I have outlined the problem, what are the solutions?
1. For me, early and often discussions about the issue seem to help. Sometimes the gifts can be a way for people to try to make up for lost time and connections during the year. So to alleviate that, make more time for loved ones.

2. Avoid going nuclear. When doing the gift giving, stay consistent. Make sure not to increase each year either with your increased success or in response to what you got last year. Once you start increasing regularly, especially increases outside of your normal gift range, you've begun to set an expectation that is unrealistic.

3. Budget, budget, budget! There's no easy solution. If you're going to celebrate holidays at all, and not become someone interested in Festivus and merely an airing of grievances, you must move toward getting something in the way of a budget started. I find that this works well when I work toward adding buffer to my freedom fund.

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