“Gift Ribbon Heart & Bokey” by Moa Maria on Flickr
When it comes to gifts, I have two distinct personalities: The Receiver and the Giver.
I’m the easiest Receiver in the world. I’m very grateful for every gift I receive no matter how small. I don’t care if you got it at the thrift store, a garage sale, or Neiman Marcus. I love handmade. I just very much appreciate that you took a moment to think of me and let me know with a gift- any sort of gift.
As a Giver though? Well, I have a bit of a problem. Gift-giving to me is very stressful and it has to do with one major flaw in my thinking.
I pay attention to the cost/value of the item I am giving.
It’s not the only thing I look at, granted, but I have shied away from certain gifts because I was afraid they would be perceived as cheap. Price is a determining factor.
This sort of thinking is partially the reason I loathe gift cards. There is a price tag right on the gift! I was brought up in an environment where it was always tacky to leave the price tag on.
I find it strange I have this issue as a Giver because it doesn’t figure into my experience as a Receiver. I’m not even sure where it came from exactly because my parents, and the majority of my family members, aren’t the materialistic type. Actually, I’ve always thought of my parents as pretty thrifty people. My mother is a bargain-hunting queen!
The thing is, I don’t want to do this. I feel as if my gift is less sincere if I shy away from an item because of its cheap price or gravitate to a different item because of its higher price. Just typing that makes me feel somewhat petty and childish.
There is one huge exception to my price tag problem, handmade gifts.
I don’t feel awkward or cheap giving them. And when budgets have been slim, I’ve done those gifts in the past. But this year, I’m completely wiped out and I just know gift-making is not going to happen. So, working with slim budgets is my only alternative.
And I feel so weird about it.
Yesterday, I wrote up a budget for Christmas. It’s $1500 and that’s with slim individual gift budgets that I am not comfortable with honestly.When I was married, we gave much more extravagant gifts- especially to our immediate family.
The killer is, that amount is very high and is really not even very realistic for me. I have a lot of expenses this time of year outside of Christmas and I haven’t done a good job at all of saving money for things.
Right now, I was on Amazon because I had a great idea for a gift for my Mom. It’s the kind of thing I know she’ll really enjoy and I know it’ll show her I know what she loves and enjoys and it’s directly tied to a couple of conversations we had ages ago. It’s the kind of gift I feel only I could give to my Mom if that makes sense.
Well, when I hopped on Amazon I found the price was very reasonable. But right away my brain noted it was only half of the budget I had designated for my Mom. Instead of being happy about this, I got nervous and instantly thought of ways I could supplement the gift to reach the budgeted amount.
And that’s when I had the ridiculously embarrassing “Duh” moment that prompted this whole post.
I’m glad I caught on to this early in the shopping season. I’m glad I realized it because I don’t think it’s healthy.
I don’t have $1500. I fully intended to have Christmas saved up for and yet all I managed to squirrel away was about $200. If I manage to actually spend the $1500 for Christmas, which is NOT hard to do with a family the size of mine, I know it’s going to cause more stress and leave me with Post-Christmas Guilt and Depression.
I really love my family. And I really love to give them gifts.
But I need to let go of the Price Tag and Budget thing I have going on.
My budget is not an amount I am obligated to spend, it’s a limit to how much I can spend. And this distinction is one I have problems with over and over again. Even while creating the budget, I found a flaw in my thinking.
Let’s say I assigned Co-Worker a $10 budget. My brain right away started brainstorming ten dollar items that would be suitable. I didn’t even think about sales tax if the item is purchased locally, or delivery charges if the item is purchased online.
I do that all of the time and then get frustrated and confused when my budget is blown. People tell me I’m really smart, but when I have these “a-ha” moments, I really feel I should disagree.
What about you? Do you wing Christmas? Do you budget every cent? Do you write a budget and blow it consistently?Are you already done with Christmas? Any advice?