To give, or to gift? That is the question

To give, or to gift? That is the question

To give, or to gift? That is the question

Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you're giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism - Caroline Kennedy

   

The cynical, pessimist in me thinks it’s how we minimize the guilt we feel about spending so much money on frivolous things. Things that we don’t need. Things that we know our kids, our families, and our friends don’t need. But, we ignore the guilt and buy the gifts. A lot of gifts.

On average, Americans spend $967 per person during the holiday season; that’s nearly $680 billion. Some say that spending so excessively isn't just stressful, it's a financial burden.  When asked, 48% of holiday shoppers said that we should stop giving unneeded gifts to each other, and instead we should give that same money to charities, or those in need. The other 52%? Well, they said they couldn’t imagine waking up to an empty tree, and feel the gifts are the best part of the holidays. What about you? where do you fall?

I fall on the side of it’s excessive and unnecessary. So, this year, I’m determined to spend less and give more. Therefore, my husband and I have cut our gift giving list by more than a third and, oh my god, that felt good!

Who are the lucky ones that made the gift list?  Our daughter. The majority of the gifts we buy will be for her as she is young, living on her own, overworked and wayyyyy underpaid.  So, she will be getting things that will enhance her hectic life. Things that she may not have money to purchase on her own, but would make her life a little more pleasant.  And, because we loooove her.

Then there are the nieces and nephews. They made the list, yet this is where I’m stuck. They are many years younger than our daughter. However, unlike our daughter, they are still living at home and have more than they will ever, ever need.  So, I’d like to find something that will appeal to their young tastes, but is also useful and creative, i.e., no crap…

And finally, we have the parents, both mine and my husband’s. This was a no brainer.  We’re a small group with a somewhat crude sense of humor.  So, Dirty Santa is the way to go for us and the cheaper/racier the gift the better.  Last year I got a well-read, dogeared, heavily highlighted, autobiographical book by Pamela Anderson that had been passed around since 2004; along with a verrrrry cheap bottle of wine. By the way, the cheap wine, once chilled and on ice, was the perfect thing to drink while I read the book and made my own notes.

And because we only have to buy two inexpensive gifts we’ll continue the Dirty Santa tradition. However, this year, in addition to my gift I will also make a donation to an organization that I think our family members would approve of. The donation will be made in our family’s name, since obviously I won’t know who will end up with the gift until Christmas…

Finally, there’s me and my husband and we have already decided to forgo gifts to each other. Instead, we’ll find an organization that we both believe in and make a donation. This is something we feel good about. We don't need more stuff.  We don't want more stuff.  We want to be with our family and enjoy the day without worrying about whether we bought the perfect gift or how much we spent. What about you?  Are you going to gift or give this year?

I, obviously, encourage giving as there are so many groups/people that are doing amazing work and are in desperate need of funds/supplies right now.  2017 has been really rough: hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes as well as the budget busting cuts to the arts, public parks, and science.

If you are planning to donate in your name or on behalf of someone, really think about what is important to you or what the other person is passionate about. Do they already support an organization? What are they interested in? What’s important to them: animals, children, clean water, art, medical research?

Remember though, before you make a donation, lt’s in your best interest to check out the legitimacy of the organization.  But with more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the US that could be pretty daunting. Therefore, I recommend searching for an organization by using sources like GuideStar, GiveWell, or Charity Navigator. These sites make it easy for you to narrow your choices and allow you to quickly see an individual organization’s mission, legitimacy, as well as the financial and social impact your donation would make.

Or, if you prefer something more personal think about making a GoFundMe, GiveForward, or YouCaring donation. These crowdfunding organizations allow you to donate to a specific person or cause. How good would it feel to help a struggling family pay their medical bills? Or, help a single parent repair their car?  Or, help an amazing artist buy more supplies? Probably better than receiving a set of ugly towels, or trying to find a gift for that one person who is impossible to please, right?

Whatever you decide to do this year, give or gift, have a happy, stress free, relaxing holiday. Or, a lot of wine.  I think this year I will have all of those.


Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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Last Updated : Tuesday, September 27, 2022