Thoughts on Giving Well This Holiday '09 - Budgets, Lists, The Whole Shebang

copyright mam gave that 2009

Thoughts on Giving Well This Holiday '09

Around this time of year it isn't surprising that one of the most requested bits of information is how to budget for the impending gift giving season? For more tips on how to specifically save and perhaps give more for less, please see my 20 Holiday Saving Tips. There are tons of tried and tested suggestions in those pages that I hope will reveal the answers you are looking for.

As for a philosophy on giving well this holiday I have come up with 3 personal steps that focus less on budgets, rules and spending money and more on celebrating the season, using the downtime to our best advantage, reconnecting with the people we love (and love us) and strengthening bonds. Here they are:

1. Turn the holiday gift giving tradition into reflection, not projection.
First: Take a piece of paper and write down the names of people who are closest to you... those who have supported you throughout the year, done incredibly nice things out of shear love... those who you know have your back (or did in a recent time of need). Think about how your gift can be one of thanks (either something they have long wanted, an invitation out to dinner, some time spent together, a heartfelt card or letter).

Second: Close relationships are the ones to focus and zero in on along with anyone you wish to show your sincere gratitude, and then, depending on your means and present situation, feather out to more casual friends, then charities and/or acquaintances. [To put this into perspective and for more on the 4 types of friendship you need to know about read one of my favorite Self articles, You Gotta Have Friends, here.]

Third: Resist the urge to give out of fear (e.g. if they do not get a gift from me they'll never speak to me again or what will they think!?) as relationships worth keeping and maintaining are not hinged on such things and entitlement is so 5 years ago. The same with gambling with futures (e.g. using gifts to sway someones affections and attention in your direction) as they rarely pan out. Instead giving out of gratitude celebrates those who have gone out of their way to be there for us. There is no need to keep tabs on who returns or gives "what" because the act of giving in this case reflects on what has already been. The gifts from them have previously come our way through their love and kindness... anything else is pure icing.

2. Stock up on little gifts and thank you cards for parties, unexpected gifts and invitations. These can be as simple (and inexpensive) as a little plant or showing up with homemade cookies. Always bring a hostess gifts or send a little gift along with your words of thanks. Private parties are going to grow in both popularity and importance for keeping us connected (and sane) in the coming years as people find their budgets for commercial entertainment slashed. Keep all the fantastic hosts out their motivated by showing your gratitude... and return the favor with your own bash when you can.

In the case of surprise gifts from people you never imagined would give you anything, have those thank you cards handy (even if you verbally already said thanks). Western etiquette says you're not obligated to automatically give a gift in return but you should make it a point to express gratitude with a physical card, note or if possible an invitation to a holiday party.

3. Be thankful and have fun. Be in the moment.

Wishing everyone the best social season possible!


P.S. This, like everything, is an experiment. Thoughts, tips? Tweet: @GaveThat.

Image: MAM for

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