Let's Talk Turkey About Gift Giving

Personal Money Planning |

By Michelle Kuehner

In a few weeks, I'll be adding a significant title to the list of letters after my name. While the precise name has not yet been determined, it is related to "grandma." When I discovered my pending generational hierarchical position a few months ago, it was a rush of excitement. The excitement was not just mine, but shared by the many stores that sell baby clothing, toys, and other things. 

Because our tiny bundle of joy will arrive shortly before Santa, family members are coming to meet our mistletoe munchkin. While travel preparations were being finalized, one topic that kept coming up was gift-giving.  

Those who know me understand that I am impossible to buy for. I acknowledge this is a shortcoming of mine, but I can honestly say that I am not sorry. I prefer things to be uncluttered, so I don't have much room for snowman coffee mugs, trinkets, or holiday socks. I'm not ungrateful that my loved ones thought of me, but I'd rather they not waste their money on things I'll never use.  This is a common sentiment amongst many. Gathering the family, eating a delicious meal, and watching the youngsters grin with glee as they rip the paper off a magical gift left beneath the tree is a gift in and of itself. However, if you still insist on giving gifts, here are some things to take into consideration.

How much do you have set aside for gift-giving?  When Santa made his list and double-checked everything, he was on to something. Is it really necessary to buy a gift for everyone on your shopping list? It's easy to overspend and give to every friend and colleague. Those individuals do not want you to be in debt over a Christmas ornament or candle. There will be plenty of cakes, pies, and cookies to overindulge in this season. Make sure your bank account isn't on the list.  Splitting gift sets is an easy way to stretch your money. Instead of one giftbag, a shower gel and lotion box set can be divided into two. This allows you to spread the joy to more people. Place each in a festive bag and you're done.  

It's also important to remember that gift-giving is a luxury. Some people are more interested in the warmth produced by a candle than with its aroma. Make gift bags filled with socks, gloves, toiletries, and food to give to those in need. You can provide a card to your loved one explaining what you did. I am confident your generosity and thoughtfulness will be warmly appreciated. 

If you're short on cash, consider giving the gift of time instead. No, I'm not talking about a watch, but about your actual time. It may be over lunch or a cup of coffee. Consider volunteering at a local charity in your loved one’s honor if you live apart.  

Whatever you decide, don't overdo it on the cookies, or the gift-giving. Both will end up causing you grief.