Easing Gift Giving Anxiety

In my family, as odd as it is, we have a tradition of on holidays attempting to make one person cry with the most sincere gift. Birthdays and Christmas are the times we do this the most, mainly because those are the two biggest gift giving days. It’s an odd tradition but we do it from the bottom of our hearts, not to be cruel. Sometimes, it’ll be just one person that we all tag-team or we’ll each choose someone we want to single out. 

This can cause huge anxiety for me. For one, you never know if you are going to be one of those people that get singled out. Two, knowing you could possibly get chosen; you feel the need to choose the person that may get you. But with me, I try to give the sincerest gift to every person on my Santa list. Even if I’m told “you only need to buy for the kids this year, “I’ll go through a store and if I see something for someone, I’ll grab it no matter what. I have a big family so I have a long list of people to buy presents for. 

Christmas shopping gives me the biggest anxiety sometimes! Even though I love shopping, malls plus Christmas are an instant anxiety-giving event for me. I handle it with breathing exercises and I do have anxiety medication to help if it gets overwhelming. I also, usually, don’t go to a mall alone because I like the feeling of protection if I go with a family member. I have social anxiety, so this is understandable. 

Christmas can be like a mixture of heaven and hell because I love shopping but spending money can also be a trigger for me. But the fear of giving a gift that might be disappointing is a trigger as well. I like to please people, especially my family who have been there for me through everything. I can go through an entire store and fill up a cart, but by the time I reach the counter I could change my mind and put half of the items could be back on shelf. I’ll think of a better item that they might need or really want. It’s a complex situation. 

It can be hard finding the right gift for everyone on a limited budget. In my family there is extra pressure to give the best gift. One example is with my niece and nephew, who have two other Aunts from their mother’s side. Giving them gifts gives me anxiety at any point because I feel like I’m in competition with these two. I like knowing that I’m their favorite ‘Auntie’, so I do try and use gifts to hold that position. But I have realized that these two shouldn’t get a ‘no’ from their parents and automatically think that their ‘auntie’ will get it for them nor should I be in competition for top ranking Aunt because if I do my job as an Aunt right, I’ll be held high on my own! 

So, when shopping for them, I think first of their development and what, within my budget, I can get them that they would use, think is fun and be educational at the same time. The secret is finding the good sales. Last year I luckily got paid the day before Cyber Monday. I sat on the couch on Sunday for hours just skimming the deals. I was able to get them something nicer for their main present than I could normally afford. Then as I shopped in stores and such, if I saw something small or simple that I knew they’d enjoy I’d grab it. They ended up with their major gifts, a few clothes from clearance racks, books, and little toys that they’d enjoy! And I knew they’d be happy. 

So, Christmas Shopping gives me major anxiety because of money, thinking that a gift might not be good enough, or thinking that I need to give more. But I think last year and this year, I’ve realized that anyone can get anxiety over Christmas Shopping. It’s stressful! But, I think the best gifts are ones that useful. They could be useful in multiple ways: a funny way, a sweet way, a sentimental way, an educational way, or a random way. I’ve just realized that I’m glad to be here with my family for another Christmas to celebrate with them and that I haven’t given up this year. And that’s the best present that I’ve given them and myself, to continue with life, because life is the biggest gift…and funniest…and it has a huge deal on it called Free. 

Read the rest of Michele’s blogs here

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