Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Present Trap

Yes, it’s the holidays!  One thing I love is giving gifts!  There’s so much fun in picking out just the right gifts for the people in my life and giving them.

The problem is that I tend to fall into a trap; this is especially true with my immediate family.  I buy those special gifts and get them wrapped and under the tree.  Then, I look at the tree and think – gee, it’s a little slim.  Back I go shopping.  It’s at those times that my ability to discern the perfect gift from the perfect sale is faulty.  This sale is great, and, well, they might like a neon orange shirt, and I DO need more under the tree. 
Yes, I’m guilty of buying gifts to wrap.  Those gifts that end up in a closet unused.  I have no problem with people returning my gifts, but, often, they don’t.  Sigh!

Of course, I’m not the only one.  We receive many of these “filler” gifts from family as well.  (Think bright pink slanket or leopard print leisure top – shudder!)  The intentions are good, but, in the end, money has been wasted and the only real joy comes from the unwrapping, not the receiving. 

Those special gifts are still treasured, but those “bonus” gifts are piled around and forgotten.

Here’s my dilemma – I feel like people will be disappointed if I don’t show up with piles of presents, but in my heart I know that they will only enjoy those special gifts I’ve put so much thought into.  

This year might just mark a change in direction for my gift giving – I want to give, but I also want friends and family to love what they receive.  Restraint, balance, discipline – I’m gonna try. 

Do you fall into the present trap?  How do you make sure your giving isn’t about quantity but about really sharing the joy of the season?


  1. We have a set limit. One "big" present, one "little" present and fun stuff in stockings. We also have a budget.
    I know a lot a people who use the rhyme:
    Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
    And others who give three gifts which each symbolize one of the three gifts given to Jesus.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. However, over the years I have trained myself to just give one 'quality' present to everyone, mainly because that's all my finances will allow! To my family and a few close friends I indulge my 'need' to give extra by giving them stockings filled with simple, cheap things like notebooks, pens, talc, soap, tights, books, etc. - so things that will definitely be used and appreciated. I buy these things throughout the year to take advantage of special offers and sales but do set a limit to the cost of each stocking.

  3. Hi Eileen,

    Stocking are another challenge. How much is enough? I usually shop throughout the year too. This year - I got nothing. It's been a weird year all around.

    Glad you've got a jump on things!


  4. FLP, I actually like the rhyme. May have to think about putting that one into action. :-)


  5. I've fallen into this trap many times. I used to be one of those people who started shopping on December 26th for the next year. I collected and made lists all year. I don't do that anymore but I still over buy. I saw a poem quite similar to the one FLP shared - something to read, something to wear, something to play, something to share - and I'm loosely using that as a shop this year. :)

  6. I just went Christmas shopping for our family who we are visiting this December. I am relieved that I am done!

    It's so hard buying presents that they would actually like AND use. Plus with a tight budget, I couldn't splurge on their wish list.

    I am actually the kind of gift giver who likes to give maybe 2 or three kinds of presents for each person. But can't do that now with the said budget! :( Well it is the thought that counts and the fact that we are spending this wonderful holiday as a family. :)

  7. Roxi, That's what I keep thinking. All those packages don't really enhance the enjoyment of the season any more. It's all about family and Christ.


  8. Great reminders in this post for sure! This is what we do with our two children. They get three gifts individually - something they want (typically its been a toy), something they need (clothes typically) and something to read. Although we don't emphasis Santa in our home, we do a larger "Santa" gift that is for both girls (last year was a dollhouse which was set up by the tree to play with)....we also do a stocking with stickers, etc in it. Also, on Christmas Eve we each open a gift which is a pair of Christmas theme PJ's, have hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie (last year was a Veggie Tales Christmas one). Because we live out of town from my family, they will typically send gifts in the mail or just send money, so that we can buy a gift for the girls to open or shop for themselves. This year we are doing shoeboxes with our girls as well to start teaching that its not just about us at Christmas...

  9. Thanks for the comment - I love that you are starting this early with your kids! We used to do PJ's on Christmas Eve - that was fun! I'm really excited about restructuring our purchases this year. I've already told the kids it'll be about getting just a couple things they can enjoy or need rather than a ton of just stuff. :-)


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!