wants versus needs: the gift giving edition


The Bank of Montreal’s 2012 Holiday Spending Outlook finds that survey respondents plan to spend an average of $1,610 this holiday season, up from $1,397 in 2011. Shoppers surveyed say they plan to shell out an average of $674 for gifts this year, compared to an average of $583 last year. The top reasons for spending more are having more people to shop for and being better off financially.

Further to the SPUG post… the top reason for spending more this holiday season is having more people to buy for. But do you need to buy for all those people?!? Can we just sit down and have a sensible conversation where no one’s feelings are hurt? Do we really need to do Secret Santa exchanges at work? Do we need to send gifts to every relative, no matter how distant? Do we need to buy something for every child in our lives? For all of our friends? No, we don’t need to and quite frankly, half the time we don’t even want to.

But there are expectations… Many years ago my now ex-sister-in-law sent me a two page letter berating me for not buying my infant nephew a Christmas present. I had just lost my job but that was no excuse. Any gift would have been better than none, no matter how cheap or crappy. He was 6 months old but she assured me that my transgression would “go down in his book of life.” Uh…. only if you tell him, ’cause he’s, like, a baby and doesn’t even know who I am yet. I hate the pressure to buy something! Anything!

The amount of money spent on Christmas isn’t the part that makes me want to run away to a desert island, it’s the waste. People have so much stuff already. And every birthday, every Christmas, every Hanukkah….. more stuff piles up. No wonder we have t.v. shows about hoarders.

Can we let go of this? Just a little bit? Ease up on the expectations, say no to novelty mugs, have a good time and just enjoy each other’s company?

And just so I don’t sound like a total Scrooge, I truly appreciate the thought that goes into every gift I receive. Since the only people I exchange gifts with are those who know me well, it is always something relevant or useful. Like the food hamper from my mom last year (best gift ever!). Or books. Or handmade gifts like jam and knitting. Or booze. :]  But if any of my friends or family want to stop, just say the word. I won’t take it as a sign that you don’t love me anymore.


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