Have you ever wondered when Christmas became the season to give a bunch of store-bought stuff to people? I have been somewhat preoccupied with this question and started doing some research. What I found out has kind of turned my head around about this holiday that seems to be so engrained in spending more money than we have and stressing out over whether or not the recipients of said gifts will like them or not. And really stressing over the fact that we spent too much. And as you’ll see when you read further, no, most people don’t like the gifts they receive!
The Marketing Of Gift Giving
The tradition of giving gifts around Christmas didn’t really begin in the Western part of the world until the end of the 19th Century. At that time gifts were often given just on Christmas Eve. It didn’t take long for retailers to start recognizing the opportunity this tradition created. Around the turn of the 20th century this became a perfect storm as marketing efforts were aimed at children in the hope they would entice (or badger) their parents into buying the stuff they were marketing. That’s when the entire month before Christmas became a very profitable period for retailers. And, as we all know, the tradition has deep roots and is bigger and stronger than ever.
Average Individual Spends $1,000 On Gifts
According to some researchers it has been estimated that in the early 2000s shoppers in the U.S. alone spent over $4 billion each day during the Christmas shopping season. The average individual spent over $1,000 on gifts.
According to Wikipedia gift giving is not as appreciated as we would like to think. In fact, all this spending actually, “leads to gifts often being returned, sold, or re-gifted. In .. 2016, 15% of respondents were unhappy about their gifts and 10% could not remember what they had received. Twenty-five percent of respondents (in a survey) said they had re-gifted their presents to someone else, 14% sold the items, 10% tried to return them to the store, and 5% returned the gift to the giver. Seniors were more likely to send their unwanted presents to charity, while those aged 25 to 34 "simply threw them away". Gifts that are least likely to be appreciated rely on personal tastes, and include items like perfumes and cosmetics, ornaments, and clothing.”
Love Is The Essence Of The Holiday Spirit
Since it is already a well-known fact that finances are a leading cause of stress and depression, why not give yourself a break this year. Turn the holiday season into a time of enjoying loving experiences with your friends and family. Play games together. Have a cup of tea. Sit around a warm fire and talk about dreams and aspirations for the coming year. Watch movies. Make things together. In other words, spend precious time together as a way of expressing love for each other in ways that do not include the giving of expensive or otherwise unwanted gifts.
If You Must Give
If you simply can’t see yourself not giving something during the holiday season, make sure it’s a gift that will make your family know how much you really love them. Schedule that appointment you’ve been putting off with a financial advisor to establish the security of your loved ones in the event something should happen to you. In other words, give them a sense of true security. Let them know you’ve established a plan that will ensure the people you love will be cared for in your absence or your debilitation. Let them know that your needs will be covered if you should require long-term care. Let them know they will not need to sacrifice their lives to care for you if you should fall ill.
Let your loved ones know that you appreciate their love more than the trinkets they may want to give you. Let them know that you would prefer they live within their means which is a sign of self-love. In the end, as the great Maya Angelou has said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you make people feel less pressured financially and more loved, they will never forget that!
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. May you celebrate with great love this season.