As soon as department stores become a safety hazard and I can feel Jack Frost nipping at my nose, I know we have entered the most magical time of the year. It’s as if the Holiday Spirit awoke from its hibernation and started scavenging every street corner ensuring that we are all keeping the holly jolly spirit alive.
I don’t think of myself as a holiday Grinch. Really, I’m not one at all; decorations brighten my walk to work, the smell of freshly cut pines brings back memories of my childhood and nothing is cozier to me than a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day. But I can’t help it when I hear the first holiday jingle of the year and my chest immediately tightens and I instinctively grab my purse a little tighter. It’s my protective response when I sense my cash flow is about to get a little crazy.
Gift buying has always been stressful for me. I feel caught between my desire to impress, while not putting my bank account into distress. Each year I sadly let the money worry keep me from enjoying what this season is really about: family, joy, celebration and love. I realized this year that my approach to gift buying was hindering my inner Christmas Elf from immersing fully into the New York City holiday magic.
So before I even contemplated a single gift this year, I decided to start the season with two short techniques to get me in the right state of mind about buying gifts:
Make a list and check it twice.
Write down everyone you need to buy a gift for this year (from Mom and Dad to your doorman). Go back over your list and come up with at least one specific example or reason why you’re grateful for each person this year. Ask yourself what do they do to make your life more enjoyable and happy? This moves you out of feeling annoyed for having to get them each a gift and brings you closer to feeling excited to celebrate each of your relationships.
Sleigh bells ring, were you listening?
Recount your last few conversations you had with each person on your list. Was there something new happening in their life, nervousness over a new change or complaints towards a problem they were working through? Putting yourself back into those conversations are the best clues to finding them a gift that is not only meaningful but also practical for their current life. If you take the time to find them a gift they need and will use immediately, the short amount of reflection time will pay itself off with gratitude (plus it’s a guarantee your efforts won’t be wasted with a return or a re-gift).