Coming up with fun and unique Christmas gifts year in and year out can pose quite a bit of a challenge. For some, what should be a true joy of the season can turn gift giving into a tedious chore.
No doubt, most parents spend a good sum of money on Christmas, especially for their children. But even as they spend more, does this make the gift any more meaningful?
It is said that money can’t buy you love. Yet that doesn’t stop many of us from trying. However, in our hearts we know very well that pricey presents don’t make the perfect gift. Still, many of us get caught in the holiday spending spree.
“When we are pressured to match a transaction of cash and heart-felt emotion, it feels like we can never spend enough,” says Clinical Social Worker Mara Glatzel. However, we should remember that expensive gifts don’t improve relationships – at least not for long. And, according to Ashley Eder, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in California, “If you feel like you have to get someone a gift you cannot afford in order to maintain the relationship, it might not be a relationship you want to keep.”
Gift-giving is a very complex topic. For instance, it sparks comparison making and fears about not being good enough, according to Eder. “It’s natural that some people turn to high-value items just to soothe their fears about gift exchange,” she said.
People also think that expensive presents will boost a relationship or solve specific problems. “People turn to interesting gifts … hoping that giving someone a nice gift will make up for gaps in the relationship,” Eder says. Ultimately, Eder suggests, “Look honestly at your triggers around self-esteem and worthiness in a relationship.”
Great gifts don’t necessarily need to cost much, and many gifts, which can be shared by the family, and done together or experienced together or even done for someone else, are the gifts that often last a lifetime.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Set a date. If it’s someone you don’t get to see often, set a time to get together- even just to catch up over coffee. And if a face-to-face isn’t possible, schedule a “holiday phone call, where you both make sure you have uninterrupted time and adequate phone batteries,” Eder suggests. Whatever you do, it’s important to follow through or remind that special someone to take you up on your “gift”. Glatzel points out, “The real value is in the follow-through of holiday promises.”
2. Be charitable. Pick a favorite charity and donate in a loved one’s name. Many schools, church groups and NGO’s offer different and sometimes creative ways of fundraising for the less fortunate (Parols for a Cause, for instance, has been quite popular with churches for some time now). In our preschool, we try to come up with amusing and interesting “themes” for our Christmas Fundraising projects. This year, for example, our theme, “Stockings around the Christmas Tree” saw the school’s Christmas tree decked with different sized socks and stockings which the students and parents alike could choose to purchase, with proceeds going to the school’s Project Apad*. This allows our parents to share their blessings with underprivileged school children while making it a fun and enjoyable activity for our “donors”.
3. Get creative. Get your or your child’s creative juices flowing! Create a poem, a painting or an original song for your loved one. Digital gifts are another option, such as creating photo collages for each person in your family.
4. Write a letter. Handwritten letters are becoming rare but they’re a beautiful way to express your feelings for a loved one. Write down your favorite memories or express gratitude in words for your relationship. Have you heard about the “Bottle of Love?” A beautiful idea of love notes in a jar, made up of 365 phrases rolled into little scrolls, prepared with 100-percent love… no need to wait for valentine’s day for this gift!
5. Do a holiday swap. If you still like to exchange gifts, set a price point and toss names into a glass bowl for each person to pick out. This can be a fun way to enjoy a holiday all together without enormous stress to buy everyone a gift.
Sharing experiences, giving to charity and handmade gifts are often the most rewarding. Studies also show that spending time togetherenjoying fun activities is associated with children and parents having a stronger emotional bond. Moreover, studies show that children who communicate with their parents tend to do better at school, and teenagers who actively spend time with their parents tend to have fewer behavioral problems.
*The Center for Childhood Education has been supporting the education of high school and college students from Barangay Apad, Jomalig Island, Quezon province since 2014, thru its program called Project Apad. We are always looking for good Samaritans to extend financial help for this worthwhile project. If you wish to help or find out more about PROJECT APAD, please call us at 6354968; 0917-8575558.