Merry Christmas! Don’t Underestimate Gift-Giving

Many people are now donating to charities in lieu of gifts and cards. Who can argue against this trend? That said, I have learned not to undervalue giving gifts that are personal, demonstrate insight into who the recipients are, and make those recipients feel special.



One year when things were particularly hectic (still working full time) I thought of doing the “charity in lieu of gifts” thing. I still sent cards, but skipped the friend gifts and sent them a notice of our choice and information on the charity. Someone I love very much told me she was disappointed because she looked forward to the gifts I had given her. My righteous choice didn’t make the season merry — just easier for me. I should have known better.

The art of giving includes knowing who to splurge on, who to call and talk with and who to just send a card and a funny note. Another lesson learned: I don’t have to keep the giving “even” – just personal.


Even re-gifting is OK if you know the recipient would like such a gesture. Every once in awhile I give someone a book that I bought and loved – and in that book I write a note to them about why I chose to give it to them for Christmas. Time and effort absolutely count.

Here are a few more thoughts on holiday giving for women like Cathy (fellow blogger and friend) and myself who are or trying to be fabulous even if they are exhausted by the holidays!

  • Do send a card, personal note, or give a call to all relatives and close friends over 65 — they will appreciate it and really want to put your greeting up on their bookshelf or hear your voice at the holidays. If you can afford it, send them a gift too like flowers. It will bring joy.
  • Buy a small thoughtful gift for people who have made your life special this year. This should not become a permanent forever list but a list that should change yearly. Tell them why you wanted to get them something and how their kindness made you feel — it will touch their heart.
  • You may have to choose between sending each cousin a card/note (even the ones who never are in touch) OR instead sending something small to your elderly single neighbor, your hairdresser, or favorite store owner. Always choose the people who have helped you or need you — you are not living somewhere and interacting with people for no reason. Your cousins likely don’t care.
  • When in doubt over gift-giving, here is a “test” I give myself. I think of what would make this person smile, or what she or he would want, need or be thrilled by. If I do not care what they think, want, need or would be thrilled by then I pass.

Yes, there is too much commercialism – but don’t be miserly either. Fabulous means joyful, generous, caring and fun. Oh damn — I can’t just get those Starbucks Gift Cards for everyone I know if I follow my own advice.