By Jesse Stilwell, December 7 2017 —
December can be an expensive month. The holidays involve going to parties where drinks are marked up and restaurant prices are hiked. On top of all of this, you might feel obligated to buy people presents.
Buying gifts shouldn’t come from a feeling of obligation. If you appreciate someone in your life and want to spend a few dollars on something nice for them, go for it. Don’t expect or demand something in return. If the person reciprocates and buys you a little token as well, that’s just generosity.
If someone catches you off guard and gives you a gift, it can be awkward to not also instantly have something for them. But if they’re coming from a good place, it shouldn’t be an issue. If you don’t discuss buying reciprocal gifts with someone ahead of time, then you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to.
If you’re in a relationship or buying gifts for family, it’s wise to discuss and set a budget ahead of time. Then you’ll know what your loved ones are expecting and no one will feel undercut or shown up. When deciding on an amount to spend, don’t be ashamed if you can’t spend as much as everyone around you. Students are always strapped for cash. Don’t agree to spending an amount that makes you uncomfortable or cuts into your budget for living expenses.
If you’re really struggling, it’s okay if you simply can’t afford gifts. The important people in your life will understand and will enjoy having you relaxed for the holidays rather than you decimating your bank account just to play into materialistic desires.
Materialism is what most of the holiday rush is about, anyway. Malls are hellish this time of year and bring out the worst in people. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding this entirely and instead spending your money on experiences with the people you love. If you don’t know someone well enough to buy them a nice dinner or a night at Zoolights, you probably don’t know them well enough to buy them a gift basket either.
This might come across as Scrooge-like, but not giving into the desire to buy garbage Christmas gifts doesn’t mean you aren’t enjoying the holidays. Instead of blowing entire paycheques at the mall, spend time with those closest to you and celebrate all of the good things about the holidays.
Articles published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.