Holiday Series Part 2: Is It Time to Re-evaluate Your Holiday Shopping List?

This is Part 2 in a holiday series that I hope will help you manage the emotional, mental, physical, and financial clutter that can accompany the year’s end. You can read Part 1, “How to Keep Your Holiday Calendar Clutter Free,” here.

I hope last week’s post inspired you to be more intentional when scheduling holiday activities. Now let’s carry that consciousness over to your gift giving.

When you think about your holiday shopping, are you eager to hit the stores and find just the right gift or are you dreading it before you even begin? While your gift list is probably not a place you’ve ever considered looking for clutter before, I can guarantee you it could use some clearing.

Every year, Santa Claus makes his list and checks it twice. He takes the time to decide if any names need to moved from the “Nice” list to the “Naughty” list. Maybe you should take a tip from the old guy. No, I’m not suggesting you only buy gifts for those who are worthy enough to receive them. Oh, wait. Yes, I am. But in a bit of a different way.

Take a few minutes right now and make a list of who you intend to give gifts to. Consider categories like family, friends, coworkers, and service providers.

Now think about who you are excited to shop for and who you’re kind of dreading shopping for. Then answer this question: If it would be easy to stop exchanging, and there would be no consequences, whose name would I cross off? 

When choosing who makes the cut, consider the following: 

  • Your holiday shopping budget – both money and energy
  • Your intention behind giving that person a gift
  • Your level of excitement about choosing a gift

Is there anyone you’re buying for because you feel like you have to or should? Are you planning on getting someone a gift because you know you’ll receive one from them?

If you don’t feel ready to trim your list, maybe make some tweaks. Is there a friend who you’ve exchanged gifts with for years, and now you just try and find something because you have exhausted your selection? What if you were to have a chat with him or her about mixing things up? Maybe you do something fun together instead of buying each other a physical gift. Or perhaps you donate to a charity of each other’s choice.

When considering exchanging gifts, keep your values in mind. What does the practice mean to you? What do you want the experience to be like for you and the recipient? Doing so makes it more of an event and less about “things.” 

For many years, my siblings and I have drawn names to choose who we exchange with. I love thinking about what to give my person. I consider their interests, hobbies, and personality. I like to come up with something they’re unlikely to get for themselves, and that I know they’d be excited to receive. The little girl in me also gets excited about getting a present. It’s nice to know someone is thinking about me and considering what I’d like.

A couple years ago, some siblings suggested we do a Yankee swap instead, where everyone brings a gift and who ends up with it is totally random. I hated this idea. It felt too impersonal for me. It seemed more fitting for an office swap than a family swap.  

Don’t get me wrong — I think swaps are a blast, but they likely work better for smaller families. We did one with my in-laws before and it worked out great. There are few enough of us that each gift could be specific and thoughtful. Trying that same game with a group of 14 makes it a bit more challenging!

However you decide to celebrate this holiday season, be mindful about who you’ll shop for, and consider a gift of support or of an experience over a trinket or token item that might just add to someone’s clutter.

This holiday season, practice presence when choosing presents. (click to tweet!)

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