Knowing where you spend too much on holiday gifts

Check Your List Twice

by Shelly Burke

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As I was looking over my Christmas list the other day, it occurred to me that there are two types of people we tend to spend too much money on. They are the people who we would spend any amount on, but they are happy with any gift and the people who will not be happy with any gift no matter how much money we spend.

I would spend any amount of money to get my husband, kids, mom and dad, or sisters something they would truly love or make their life easier. I used to spend a lot of money on gifts for these loved ones. However, I've come to realize that they are happy with whatever I give them, be it big or small, extravagant or simple, just so it's given with love.

For the last few years my sisters, parents and I decided that we would keep gift giving to a minimum. My sister now donates money to a charity on our behalf. My other sister and I have started a tradition of baking biscotti and making truffles for everyone. This year, we took the treats to them when we visited at Thanksgiving, saving money by not having to mail anything.

I took a bunch of pictures at Thanksgiving, and will be making collages (via computer) and sending these to family members to enjoy all year. I get as much joy out of giving these less expensive gifts, as I did giving more expensive ones. Plus, I have the bonus of saving time and money and not stressing out over finding the "perfect" gift.

I think we all have people in the second category on our Christmas list, namely people who will not be happy no matter how much time, effort, and money is put into their gift.

For many, many years, I spent way too much time and energy trying to "please" one person in my family this way. I wanted him to like me and to appreciate what I did, but the most he did was to grunt and then throw my carefully chosen, expensive gifts, on the floor.

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Several years ago, I realized that I was never going to please him and decided not to spend the time, energy or money on gifts for him anymore. In the spirit of Christmas, we still give him gifts, just not extravagant ones, and not with the expectation of receiving thanks or appreciation for them.

We give gifts that are inexpensive and simple, such as homemade candy or soup mixes, gloves, a coffee mug, or office supplies. We give things that will be used and appreciated by another family member if the original recipient doesn't. I've given him books that I think he'll enjoy, but these are also books that I know another family member will enjoy if he isn't interested in reading them! We also give framed photos that can be easily displayed, and perhaps will bring him some happiness.

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