The best gift you can give someone at Christmas is your time.
This is especially true in a time where if you’re not busy all the time and on the go constantly, you’re perceived to not be working hard enough or not doing enough. When we meet up with friends and family it’s-
“hey how’ve you been?”
“Yeah me too! So busy!”
… busy isn’t how YOU are though is it and it does not equal productivity or a good use of your time…
This time of year SO many people spend beyond their means and buy presents people don’t even end up using. Or another scenario is you feel bad because the value of your presents exchanged is evidently different so the next year you HAVE to spend more through guilt and apprehension of it happening again….
I’m about to speak very honestly about how I’m feeling about christmas, gifting and why.
Last year I was manipulated into spending around 4-5x more on my significant other than they did…. the conversation went something like:
Them– “ how much are you planning on spending?”
Me: ” Oh I don’t know, why how much are you planning on spending?”
Them: “About £500”
Me: *in my head* Shit i need to up my game..
It was a lot of money, but the conversation was a normal conversation right? You’re probably thinking – Char that’s not manipulation… and you’d be right, it’s what happened next that made it manipulative.
So then the budget was set. I DID up my game. I bought bigger, I bought better. I bought presents to open Christmas day, I bought a trip to take them away. Did I really have that much to spend on one person at that point in my life, probably not no, but I felt I had to because they were, aside from the fact we’d only been together a few months AND I’d just gone big for their birthday.
So when Christmas came around, so did disappointment. Now, I’m not into material things, I recently sold my Apple Watch because that could be money better spent but when you’ve been told you’re receiving around £500 worth of gifts and what you receive is >£100 you’re left disappointed. Disappointed in yourself for expecting more, BUT I think what i was most disappointed in was the realisation that I’d been manipulated for their gain. I hadn’t really experienced that before and maybe I was naive in trusting, I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong even £100 is a lot to spend so I am not ungrateful, nor am I spoilt, that’s not the message here. (For the last few years, my sister and I haven’t exchanged gifts we’ve instead set aside a day to spend together doing something we really want to do and just enjoy the time uninterrupted.) The message is around the manipulation to spend far more on them than they ever planned to spend- and notice how it was them who initiated the original conversation anyway.
I did bring it up with them at a later date. When I questioned it, they said it was “banter”.
Manipulation. Is. Not. Banter.
I guess this year I just feel a bit funny about Christmas. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I don’t know. The whole thing around buying presents this year, I’d just rather not- I’d rather people just spoilt Bonnie (my puppy) instead. Do I love buying gifts and treating people? absolutely but this year my excitement or ‘festive cheer’ comes not from gifts, but from looking forward to spending time with people I love. I have a generous Christmas holiday entitlement from work so I can enjoy a good break where before as a freelancer and self employed, I’d feel anxious taking more than a couple of days off.
Even more recent events have also just taught me that life is way too precious and our time together is worth so much more than any gift that could be bought.
It is hard, I know, but I strongly encourage you to try and not spend outside your means. Your company is worth far more so maybe arrange a date you can get together with friends and family that you’ve been meaning to see for so long.
People will remember the effort you made to see them, more than the present you can’t afford that you sent them in the post.
Now go and tell someone you love them xx