4 Tips for Meaningful Gift Giving

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

It’s no secret that many people find gift giving stressful, but it doesn’t need to be that way! This year, make gift giving something you enjoy and something that has meaning. Learn how >

Did you know?

  • 62% of Americans say they lack money during the holidays, which makes them stressed.
  • 53% of Americans get overwhelmed by the commercialism and hype of the holidays.
  • 47% of Americans are stressed by the pressure of giving or getting gifts.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and pressured this holiday season, know that you are not alone! I want to share some tips that I’ve gathered over the years that have helped me and my kids give meaningfully and make the most of the spirit of generosity.

1. Encourage your family members to create a wish list of ideas. This helps people know what others really want. There’s nothing worse than giving an unwanted gift —or receiving gifts that you just hate. Be upfront about gift budgets so that the wish lists fit the budget as well. To ease your stress even more, set a reminder on your calendar to e-mail your wish list request to your friends and family members 6 months ahead of time. Then, send a second reminder three months ahead of Christmas to ensure that everyone has had enough time to think about and submit their requests.

2. Take your kids shopping to buy gifts for others. Since our budget tends to be tight, we usually have the best luck shopping at discount stores that have a lot of variety, such as Wal-Mart, or Target. Our kids often find great gifts by visiting the part of the store that interests the recipient, such as the cooking section for the person who loves to bake, the office-supply section for the businessperson who is always on the road, the toy department for the younger cousins, or the cosmetic section for the cousin who loves makeup.

3. If you do take kids shopping, make the trip short and during times when there aren’t many people. We often find shopping easier on a weekday night after dinner. If you can, avoid weekends, since that’s when everyone else goes! Do easy, little things to make the shopping easy for your kids—and for you.

4. As a family, brainstorm something simple to give as gifts. One year, we baked fruit breads (such as banana bread, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread). Another year, my kids made handmade gift cards. My kids have also made bird feeders and given bird food.

Here’s a great idea for handmade Christmas gifts from Disney’s Family Fun website. (Hint: My son made the reindeer bag one year, and it was a big hit!)

You don’t need to spend a lot of time (or money) making or buying gifts. What’s important is to do something simple and fun. Kids are often much more excited to give something they’ve made rather than something they’ve helped you buy. But no matter whether your kids give gifts that they’ve made or they bought, they’re much more likely to be excited when they were part of the process from shopping to wrapping to giving.

1. Anna Greenberg and Jennifer Berktold, “Holiday Stress,” Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, December 11, 2006.

2. Holidays, ParentFurther.

3. Image via tengrrl on Flick’r.

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