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Do you suffer from gifting overwhelm? Here’s how to overcome it.

The season of giving is upon us, and with it comes the joy, excitement – and let’s face it – the (perceived) often overwhelming pressure of finding the perfect gift. For many, this time of year is contaminated by a creeping sense of anxiety – the need to spend, or perhaps impress and fulfill the unspoken expectations of gifting. It’s actually a time and experience from which we can learn a lot about ourselves. We often seek out just the right gift so that the other knows we care. Yet if gift buying is also stressful for you, see if you can pull the curtain back on that and observe whether you also care about what that person thinks of you (and follow that up with introspection about the traits you want them to see in you… which is a conversation for another day/article).

So why do we experience gifting overwhelm, and more importantly, how can we navigate it?

Understanding the pressure

Gifting overwhelm often stems from a combination of internal and external pressures. Internally, we grapple with our desire to show love and appreciation, fearing that anything less than the perfect gift might fail to convey our true sentiments. Externally, there’s the bombardment of advertisements and societal expectations that equate the value of a gift with the depth of our feelings.

The pursuit of the perfect gift is an exhausting and often unattainable goal. This myth is perpetuated by a culture that often equates material value with emotional significance. It’s important to remember that the most cherished gifts are often those that carry personal meaning, regardless of their monetary value.

Overcoming gifting overwhelm

If you perceive the pressure to always buy the ultimate gifts – the ones that knock your loved one’s socks off – take a moment to reflect on what might be driving that. It is interesting to ponder whether you might be inadvertently trying to seek validation and acknowledgement of your worth through gifting. It’s worth pointing out that this goes for both the giving and the receiving of gifts so perhaps also consider your response to the receiving of gifts too.

Here are some other tips to help you overcome the overwhelm of gifting.

Set a Budget

Before you start shopping, decide on a budget and stick to it. This helps to narrow down options and keeps your spending in check. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag.

Personalise Your Gifts

A personalised gift, whether it’s a handmade item, a photo book, or something thoughtful that highlights a special moment between you and a loved one, often holds more emotional value than the most expensive items off the shelf.

Gift experiences

Sometimes, the best gift is not a thing, but an experience. Concert tickets, a cooking class, or a day at a spa can create memories that last longer than any physical item. For those who value time spent with loved ones, shared experiences will be extra powerful.

Communicate with your loved ones

Openly discussing gifting expectations with friends and family can alleviate a lot of pressure. You might find that they too prefer simpler, more meaningful gifts or be looking to minimise their own gifting overwhelm. Maybe you decide as a family to do Secret Santa and each only buy one present instead of something for everyone.

Consider charitable donations

For the person who has everything, consider making a donation in their name to a cause they care about. This can be especially meaningful and impactful.

Embrace gift cards

While some may deem them impersonal, gift cards can be a thoughtful option, allowing recipients to choose something they genuinely need or want.

Start early

Avoid last-minute panic by starting your gift shopping early. This gives you time to think about what each person would appreciate and avoids the frantic rush of last-minute shopping.

Limit your list

It’s okay not to buy gifts for everyone. Prioritise those closest to you and consider sending cards or heartfelt messages to others.

Remember the essence of gifting

Refocus on the essence of gifting – it’s an expression of love and appreciation, not a measure of financial investment or a test of your gifting abilities. If it becomes overwhelming, take a step back and remind yourself of the joy and love that underpin this tradition.


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