The holiday season is full of tough questions. What to wear to the office Christmas party, whether to go in for seconds (or thirds) of ham, how long leftover seafood keeps for (don’t push it), whether pudding is an acceptable Boxing Day breakfast (the answer – it is). But the toughest dilemmas of all have to do with exchanging gifts.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about gift shopping, you’re not alone. A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that spending more time and money on presents doesn’t necessarily lead to more happiness or satisfaction. The study shows that receiving a particularly nice gift results in even less happiness, potentially because of the pressure to reciprocate. So you can stop stressing about not showing someone how much you care about and value them; even science says that spending time together and enjoying good food are far better for that.
That said, chances are that you’ll still want to spoil at least a few of your nearest and dearest family members and friends. To avoid a stressful experience, just follow a few unwritten rules of gift-giving.
Ever receive a gift from someone and feel awkward because you’ve got nothing to give back? Aside from planning your shopping list ahead of time, the easiest thing to do is to have small generic gifts ready to go for the ‘just-in-case’ scenario. If that friendly neighbour with the baking habit pops by with a bag of homemade biscuits, you’ll have something to give to them in return.
If this doesn’t work for you, think about other ways you could potentially give back to the person who gives you an unexpected gift. A lot of the time, they’re just looking for a happy response – they want to know they’ve made a difference. If someone pops by with an unexpected gift, invite them in for a cuppa. If you receive something from a distant family member, tell others (in front of the gifter) why you love it, or even give them a shout-out on social media so their network can see how thoughtful and generous they are. It’s the small things in life that make the biggest difference.
When it comes to giving within your family or friendship groups, try to agree on a budget. The average spend is around $65, but you don’t have to go up to that. Plenty of stores offer gifts specifically under certain budgets, like under $20 or under $50. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like setting a dollar value, agree on a rule that for your gift giving. For example, you could agree to all purchase gifts from small local designers and artisans. Or, if you’re feeling creative, go handmade.
Failing that, there’s no harm in shopping for a bargain. If you suspect someone will go overboard on your gift, shop for theirs at an outlet or online sale. Just make sure the price tags are all removed before you wrap them!
Regifting is a fairly common practice these days. It’s born out of a desire to avoid waste whilst avoiding hurting people’s feelings. If you must regift, it’s a good idea to follow a couple of rules to avoid an awkward detection.
Always rewrap the item – crinkled wrapping paper is a clear giveaway. You also want to ensure you don’t regift it to anyone within two degrees of separation from the person who gave it to you (think family member of the friend that gave you the gift, or a co-worker of a family member). To avoid this, tag it with a post-it note identifying the person who gave it to you.
This is classic etiquette: it’s a fantastic idea to get someone a practical and useful gift, but make sure it’s not insulting. In other words, don’t get them anything that suggests they smell, can’t cook, are no good at cleaning, or need to get some exercise! If you’re in doubt, ask for a second opinion.
With Christmas almost upon us its never too late to consider your financial situation and budget for the little compounding costs that come with the festive season. Start a conversation with us today, and we can help you get on track for the upcoming holidays and many more to come.
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Nick Shanley, Steve May, Luke Styles and Shanley Financial Planning T/A Steve May Financial Services are Authorised Representatives / Corporate Authorised Representative of Sensibly Pty Ltd, AFSL 533923. Please refer to our website at www.stevemayfs.com.au to reference our Financial Services Guides.
Shanley Financial Planning Pty Ltd trading as Steve May Financial Services (ABN 19 612 825 180) is a Corporate Authorised Representative of (1265706) of Sensibly Pty Ltd (AFSL 533923)
Nick Shanley, Steve May and Luke Styles are Authorised Representatives of Sensibly Pty Ltd (AFSL 533923)