Every time I think I have finished my Christmas shopping I find someone else I missed on my gift list. I’ve gone through three separate present wrapping sessions because of my lack of proper planning. It’s a good thing I’m actually a gift wrapping and ribbon curling fiend or else I would be buried in a flurry of tape, sparkly paper and big red bows! I don’t know about you but our gift list gets longer and longer each year as we encounter more people in our busy adult lives. It reminds me of when we took on the arduous task of creating a guest list for our wedding two years ago. Who will make the cut and who get brushed to the side?
I wish we had the financial resources to give something to everyone but that just isn’t the case. Unlike my husband, who thinks we don’t have to give anything to anyone but family, I don’t want to miss anyone and stir up negative feelings. I still remember the guilt I felt one year in junior school when someone gave me a pair of cosy socks and I hadn’t thought to give her anything at all! Every time I looked at her I cringed with embarrassment. It seems that finding the perfect present is hard enough but determining whether or not you need to get someone something is even harder.
However, there are two different categories you can separate every single person in your life into when it comes to gift giving and people can move from each category depending on your own status, like whether you’re single or just starting out in a relationship, for example.
The first category is the most obvious: ‘The Musts‘, where gifts require a little extra thought and should be more personal to each recipient. This category holds all those people that make the cut every year because they are either immediate family (i.e. mums, dads, siblings, significant others etc) or just really close mates. Depending on your relationships and family preferences, the Musts can also extend to grandparents, aunts and uncles or the boyfriend/girlfriend your sibling has been dating for a long time and, if you’re trying to make a good impression with your significant other’s family, future in-laws are also included in the Musts. Just be careful not to start the gift giving cycle too early or you will be stumbling to top yourself every year until you get married and are locked in for good!
The other category is for all those you probably should give a little something to because first, they have been extra nice this year or second, they are likely to give you something as well and you don’t want to be empty handed when they do! This is the ‘Obligatory‘ category. Examples may be new mates you’ve made recently, co-workers, neighbours or that distant family member you only make contact with once a year during the festivities. Basically, these are people you feel like you should gift something to but don’t necessarily know what on earth to get them because you simply don’t know them well enough. Although tricky, there are some acceptable gifts to give in these situations, including fancy but simple handmade presents or the generic box of chocolates.
So, what about everyone else? Quite honestly, if they didn’t pop into your head as you were reading the criteria for those two categories, then you’re probably safe to skip them altogether. However, even giving them a little pack of sweets with a small piece of festive ribbon tied round it is a nice gesture that will be appreciated.
And (as it’s the season of goodwill and all that), just keep in mind that gifts aren’t usually given with the expectation to receive one in return. Sometimes, bringing an unexpected smile to someone’s face is truly the most satisfying gift of all.
P.S. If you want to be more organised than I am, use this free printable gift checklist.