How to Deal with Gift-giving Stress
The perfect gift. This can be such a source of stress. Gifts are a source of judgment. We give a gift and we fear the fake smile along with, “Oh, I love it,” and we know the gift is not loved and not wanted. As we feared, the gift is a failure.
Gift-giving stress comes from two things. The first is getting the gift, and the second is the effect of the gift. Dealing with these two problems needs two different approaches.
Getting the Gift
Some gifts are not bought, and others are. So rather than talking about buying a gift, let’s talk about getting a present. What are the pressure points? These are time, finance, and acceptability. Let’s look at one approach that deals with all of these pressure points.
A last-minute gift is most likely to be a failure. The best advice then is to buy throughout the year. If you see a crystal rose in July you know your girlfriend would love for Valentine’s Day, buy it and keep it.
If you see a painting you know your father would like in February or November, buy it, and if in August you see a book you know a friend would enjoy, then buy that too. There are three sound reasons for this approach, and all reduce the stress around giving gifts.
Buying a gift that you automatically associate with someone means you are buying a present that you can be fairly certain will be enjoyed. The instinctive recognition that this is perfect for someone is very different from the last-minute panic of wondering what to get. An example of getting rather than buying here is driftwood from a beach where you first met may be the perfect Valentine’s gift. Just making that association and acting there and then helps a great deal.
There is no last-minute rush and hunting for many presents. Last-minute rushes are a guarantee of stress and disaster. This is simply getting a present when the opportunity arises. If you are with a friend and they are getting rid of something you know another friend will like, ask if you can take it.
Buying gifts over time, particularly Christmas gifts, means reducing the financial burden. Rather than one massive expenditure in December, pacing the buying over the year makes it far easier. Having to spend big amounts of money can be stressful. Spreading out the expenses over months means far less worry.
Giving the Gift
This is often an issue and gets worse the more deeply you care for the person and fear their reaction. This issue though is on them, not you. The stress is yours, but their reaction is not.
If you have done everything you can to find a good gift, put the concern that they may not like it to one side. If they are ungracious about the gift then that is their fault, their attitude. Do not see it as a failure. Just be calm and accept that you did your best, and their being ungrateful says more about them than you.
Gift-giving can be stressful, but the stress can be managed, and finding presents can even be fun.