Gift Giving

In case you have been too busy to notice, Christmas is in 12 days! I’ve been running around like a mad woman with Christmas cards, rehearsals for the Christmas show, and getting ready for Christmas travel. One thing I have NOT been doing, however, is shopping for Christmas gifts. Both my family and my husband’s family decided to do something a little different this year, and I think it’s going to become a new tradition.

My husband’s parents live in Florida, and we’d already planned to fly there for Christmas. They suggested driving down to the Keys, in lieu of gifts, and we heartily agreed that this would be a wonderful plan! So, we’re all splitting the cost, with the parents picking up the tab for the hotel, and the kids pitching in for meals and activities. My parents also asked for our thoughts on taking a trip, instead of doing gifts, but since we’re already traveling, we decided that two trips in December would be a little too much. So, instead, we’re doing dinner and a show! My parents are getting the musical tickets, and the kids are splitting the cost of dinner at a nice restaurant. My extended family stopped doing “traditional” gifts a long time ago. For as long as I can remember, we would draw names, and only exchange a gift with one of the many aunts, uncles, or cousins, with a pretty low spending limit. This ensured that we weren’t having to travel with tons of boxes, and we weren’t blowing our entire savings on Christmas gifts for our (huge) family. And, in recent years, we started doing a white elephant exchange with homemade gifts, or gifts under $5, and donating the money we would have spent to a church or charity cause.

So, what does all of this have to do with marketing? Quite a lot, actually! Americans, in particular, have this constant need to buy more stuff, to “keep up with the Jones”. As a marketer, part of my job is to convince you that the stuff my company sells is better than the stuff another company sells. But, when I start hearing that people “need” this trinket or that pair of shoes, this giftcard or that fancy wrapping, it makes me a little sad. We all have so much in this country, but yet we feel the need for more. Many people are working in soul-crushing jobs for soul-crushing hours, just to afford more stuff that they don’t have time to use (on account of their time at their job, after all!) I would love to see more marketers sell experiences this Christmas, sell a good cause, and sell time with family. And, not in the “Kiss Begins with Kay” kind of way, but the “making memories to last a lifetime” kind of way, cheesy though that may be.

Gifts aren’t bad, but when it turns into a stressful, resentful, and generally unpleasant obligation, it ceases to be a gift! So, consider going a little non-traditional this year, if the last-minute shopping just isn’t on your to-list 🙂 And, for the more practical and frugal, here’s a somewhat humorous list of gift-giving tips from the ERE blog!

4 thoughts on “Gift Giving

  1. I agree Ashley, I think as Americans we can get caught in the rut of “needing” more, which is really a want vs. a necessity. But as I continue to grow up (yes, this is still happening in my 30’s 😉 I am more satisfied with what I have, and prioritizing what I spend my money on. This has transferred to how my husband and I approach the holidays. For several years now, our closest friends have all gotten together for a nice dinner out in lieu of gifts. This year, we held a potluck ugly sweater party at our new house. And for the 3rd year in a row, my siblings, both blood and in-laws, will participate in a Secret Santa. Overall, much more budget friendly and a heck of a lot more fun! 🙂

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  2. I love your alternative “gifts”! I totally get where you’re coming from and feel the same way. As a communicator/marketer, I understand why retailers are making these claims, but as a consumer, it pisses me off to no end that they’re trying to sell me more stuff. We also try to keep the “stuff” to a minimum, instead contributing to our nephew’s savings accounts (they have enough toys and clothes) and spending quality time and experiences with friends and family when possible. We usually get my in-laws concert tickets and contribute to something around my parents’ house that they already plan on upgrading (to help them get anything they really want but might be out of their budget).

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  3. Angeline, the savings account is a great idea! When our siblings have kids, we’ll definitely have to keep that in mind. I think being debt-free after college was the best gift my parents ever gave me 🙂

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