As we head into the Holiday Season, you’re probably dreading the crowds at the stores and the dent in your wallet. Gift-giving is fun, and it’s great to have a chance to spend more time with family through the holidays, but I don’t think anyone would say that it’s not a strain on the budget. 

Whether you celebrate Christmas or one of the many other holidays coming this season, it probably feels like you can’t escape the pressure to buy, buy, buy. This season is increasingly material and commercialized, and not in a good way. 

It’s not just at the mall, websites are trying to lure you into buying more and more stuff as well. Heck, some even call themselves allthestuff.com. Sure, you might get higher-quality gifts this way, but they certainly want you buying more than one or two. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to escape the pressure to make every holiday bigger and better (and more expensive) than the last. One of the first things you can do is encourage your family to make new gift lists. 

Give Great Gifts – Without the Pressure to Buy Bigger, Better, More

Personalize and Customize

Christmas lists have become an all-inclusive list of whatever you and your family members think you might want or need. They can cover everything from new makeup and clothing to big-budget tech items. 

While you can use the holidays as an opportunity to give those big-budget gifts, those things are usually generic. Instead, focus on giving, and asking for, gifts that are more personalized to you. Encourage your family to make lists focused on their interests. Or, challenge loved ones to find ways to make generic gifts like socks or candles special and unique to the recipient. 

Gifts can be an inexpensive way to show you appreciate your loved one’s passions. Like their passion for singing as loud as they can in the bathroom. 

Personalizing your giving makes a much bigger impact than simply giving the most expensive items a person may want. 

Encourage Self Care

Another great option to escape the materialization of the Holidays is to make new gift lists focusing on helping your loved ones give themselves the care and attention they need. 

The world is a busy and stressful place. Even kids are being asked to spend more and more of their time on homework, extra-curricular activities, and other college-acceptance boosting activities. That means less time with their friends and less time learning about the people they want to be. 

Adults are facing longer hours at work. Salaried jobs expect longer hours in exchange for the same pay, and hourly work is often underpaid and offers few benefits. Plus, if you’re a parent, you’ve got child care to take care of on top of work and house chores. 

All those commitments mean less time taking care of mind and body. So, use Christmas as a way of encouraging the busy people on your list to take some time for themselves. 

A massage ball is a good option for the sports lovers and gym rats on your list. Or, you could go with a scalp massager shampoo brush, an essential oil diffuser with a stress-relief blend, or even a book of jokes. 

The key to this option is that you need to be thinking about what your loved one needs to relax and personalize it to their interests so they’re more likely to use your gift. Just like when you personalize a creative gift for your loved one’s interests, you need to personalize self-care gifts for their needs. 

Gift Exchanges

Another way to create new gift lists is to switch to a gift exchange instead of every member of your family buying several gifts for everyone else. 

Secret Santa exchanges, especially with a set budget, make it easier to avoid commercializing your holiday. Since you’re only purchasing one or two gifts for one specific person you have a lot more freedom to shop around and make sure you’re getting something really special. 

Consider using this as your only gift exchange, in which case gift should be heartfelt, personalized, and/or useful. Or, if this is a supplement to other holiday gift-giving, you can opt for sillier gifts and bond over family jokes and pranks. 

Yankee Gift exchanges and other more random gift-giving is a fun way to spend more time together, but since the presents are random it’s more important to have a minimal budget and focus on useful things than on presents participants may be tempted to fight over. 

Remember What It’s All About

Of course, gift-giving isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about this holiday season. Whether you’re creating new gift lists, going with a homemade-only holiday (this one requires planning folks, if you want everything to be homemade, give people a year’s notice!), or showering family members with the big-ticket items of their dreams, you should keep the spirit of your holiday in mind. 

If you’re a religious family, try to think of ways to keep the faith in your holiday alive. More than just going to church, is there something you can do to uphold the values of your faith this holiday season? 

Even if you aren’t religious, this is a good time of year to remember the things most important to you, like friends and family. Try to give thanks for what you have already as much as you look forward to the goodies that come with the holidays.

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