Gift Anxiety

Gift buying can be stressful for a lot of people. If you’re one of those people, my heart goes out to you in this season.

Geoff and my brother both have massive gift anxiety. To them, it feels like a pressure-cooker of potential disappointment.

Geoff’s ideal present is to gift an experience. My brother’s ideal present situation is to avoid gift-giving entirely.

I enjoy giving gifts, but only if I know the person well enough to know that I’m picking a gift that will mean something to them. But I don’t really like giving gifts whose sole purpose is to sit on shelves. I much prefer to give gifts that can be used or experienced.

A new pair of ski socks for the ski lover, concert tickets for a show you know they love, a new bracelet for the friend that’s always concerned with accessories.

In this season of materialism holiday cheer, it can be so easy to give a gift on auto-pilot. I’ve definitely snagged a last-minute gift at Whole Foods on my way to a party before.

Yet, at the same time, giving a gift no matter what it is shows you value the relationship enough to think of giving a gift in the first place.

It’s all very nuanced, like most things in life.

Love is something we all need though.

To be witnessed. To be appreciated, seen, and valued.

It’s the love we want when getting a gift—that’s why it’s one of the love languages.

That’s why gifts we’d never think of buying for ourselves or are too scared or practical to buy for ourselves are usually the most fulfilling.

And if not that, a handwritten card in a season of mass-produced Christmas cards goes a long way—because it makes people feel seen.

So as I sit here writing out the list of people I still want to show love to this holiday season, I thought I’d share how I’m thinking about how I want to show people in my life they’re important to me this season.

Here are the questions I tend to run through:

  • Who do I want to recognize this holiday season?
  • How do I want to make them feel?
  • What’s the best vehicle for making them feel this way?
  • Do I think gifts are their primary love language? (If so, I try go out of my way to get them a gift).

I’m of the opinion that buying everyone in your life a Christmas gift can be a waste of money. Because the reality is, most people don’t need more things. And in many cases, a handwritten card is an excellent way to communicate that you’re thinking of them and wishing them well this holiday season.

So if you’re feeling the pressure to buy everyone under the sun a gift this year, maybe release some of that pressure and consider a handwritten card instead.

The quality of our lives comes down to the quality of our relationships. And the quality of our communication largely determines the quality of our relationships.

What do you want to communicate with those in your life this holiday season? And, is a gift the best way to do that? Or would a card or grabbing a coffee with them communicate just as much, if not more?

What’s your gift-giving philosophy? Do you buy for everyone? Does your family do a white elephant exchange? Do you do something completely different? I’d love to know.



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Alyssa Kulesa

Alyssa Kulesa

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