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Giving Thoughtfully: Why “Generous” Gifts Aren’t Always the Best

There’s a lot of “wonder” during the holiday season, but not the kind they sing about in Christmas carols or talk about in holiday TV specials.

Instead, people wonder if they can afford much of anything on their kids’ Christmas list. They wonder if the season will mean racking up more credit card debt. They wonder if they can pull together the money required to travel to see loved ones. With already busy schedules, they wonder if they’ll be able to create those “magical moments” for their kids.

For many, it can be a time of stress. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that women, especially, report higher levels of stress during the holidays -- 44 percent of women compared to 31 percent of men.

Families earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, the report says, are particularly vulnerable. More than half -- 53 percent -- find that their stress escalates during the holidays as they try to figure out how they can stretch their budget to include all of those holiday extras.

It certainly can be difficult to appreciate the joy of the season when you’re focused on finding -- and buying -- the hottest toy and then standing in line to see Santa, only to hear your child wants something else instead.

If you’re filled with this kind of “wonder” as the holidays near, maybe it’s time to reshuffle your thinking. Instead of focusing on the most generous gift you can give your friends and loved ones, think about how you can give to them -- thoughtfully.

Here are four ways to focus your holidays on giving thoughtful gifts -- instead of only generous ones.

  1. Consider their needs: Do the new parents in your life really need more toys for their infant? Or could they use some meals in the freezer? Does your aging grandmother need another blanket? Or would she prefer plans to play regular card games with you over the next year. Think about ways to give your time -- not just spend your hard earned money.
  2.  Listen to them: If they mention their tea is always getting cold on the way to work or there’s a book they’d love to read, buy it for them. Include a nice note to let them know you were listening.  Neither are expensive items. A good travel mug costs less than $20. A paperback book is less than $10. It’s the action of listening -- and doing -- that will mean the most.
  3. Support their passions: Is your family member or friend a regular volunteer at an animal shelter or another charity? Make a small donation of money -- or your time -- to the program that they support. Your acknowledgment and support of their interests will mean the world to them.
  4. Share a little bit of yourself: Do they always rave about your corn casserole, banana bread or Christmas cookies? Are they always asking for book, movie or music recommendations? Share some of your favorite recipes attached to a loaf of that banana bread or a dozen cookies. Or, write down a list of your favorite movies, books or music of all time and attach it with one or two items from the list.

Giving thoughtfully can take a bit more time than just filling up a cart with toys, clothes, and other items to wrap up as gifts. But, when you spend the time, your thoughtful gifts will seem just as generous -- probably even more.

The CESI Team is committed to helping you reach your financial goals. If debt keeps you from living the life you dream of, contact us for a free debt analysis today and get started on the road to a brighter future!

2 Responses to Giving Thoughtfully: Why “Generous” Gifts Aren’t Always the Best

  1. William says:

    I have you for my debt consolidation thank you for sailing

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