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Shining Light On Holiday Gift Giving Rules

We all got ’em, those often unwritten, unspoken, rules about how we are supposed to “do holiday gift giving.” These are the internal messages, aka mind chatter voices, that can rule us over the holiday season.

Some of them go like this:

“I have to spend the same amount on each person”

“A lot of little things are better than one big present”

“I need to match the gift I think they will be getting me”

“I have to buy everyone in the family, even cousins a gift, because it’s been done that way forever”

“Gifts can only come from high end stores”

“I have to purchase what was asked for”

When I was a little girl, the unspoken rule around holiday gifting was “one big present, three or more smaller ones,” for the immediate family. Money was mostly given to all other than the immediate family with the thought of “oh this will help them buy what they want.”

When I got married, my husband had a set of gift giving rules he lived by too. He tells me gift limits were “set,” per person, and it was OK to go over the limit set but not under the limit.

Over the holiday, it is good to get in touch with and shine some light on our internal gift giving rules. These rules often determine what we give, how much and to whom we give. We might even ask ourselves if these internal rules are something we want to modify, shift, or release. Consciously “re-designing” our internal rules can bring up conflicting emotions such as guilt, relief, inadequacy, and feelings of freedom. A re-design  of inner rules can also upset the chatter going on in our heads and we can bump up against believing we will be disapproved of if we do gift giving in a different way,  in a way that may better resonate with our values and bank account.

Here are some questions of inquiry to support you in finding your own way of gift giving:

~How much do I want to spend this year and how much can I spend without going into revolving credit card debt?

~What is my main focus this year with gifts? Do I want to give in the way of shared experiences or to give a material item?

~What are my internal unwritten unspoken gift giving rules?

~How are these rules honoring me? How are these rules hurting me?

~If my bank account doesn’t support the amount I want to spend in gift giving, how can I use my creativity to give?

~What emotional capacity do I have or what support do I need to do gift giving in a way that honors me while shifting my internal childhood rules?

Also, if you aren’t familiar with Gary Chapman’s work on the 5 languages of love, you might check out his book and to allow his book to be a guide for your holiday expression of love.


1 thought on “Shining Light On Holiday Gift Giving Rules”

  1. It’s easy to buy and spend money of stuff. I like to spend time with the people I care rather than a token that may well live in a cupboard for years. Xx

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