We all want to make people happy with the gifts we get them. Whether it’s a holiday, birthday, wedding, baby, or anniversary, we want to mark the occasion with a choice that will bring a smile to the recipient’s face. Unfortunately, too many of us are lured into the trap of believing that the more expensive the gift, the bigger the smile. Even worse, we believe that if we don’t provide a lavish gift, our recipients will feel that we don’t truly love or like them.
You may not even realize that guilt drives your gift-giving. Consciously, you don’t even question the formula that equates love with price tags. The problem is made even worse by the fact that those we shop for think they’re making life easier by providing a list of web links or registering at their favorite stores. Everyone knows exactly how much each gift is costing. Not only is the surprise factor completely eliminated, but so is the guessing factor.
In many ways, however, the lists that others give to us (and we to them) do eliminate many awkward moments. In fact, going “off the list” (as some brides call it) may guarantee you even worse condemnation than you’d get by buying gifts at the low end of the price range. The system has evolved in a way that is supposed to avoid hurt, pain, and the anguish of making returns. However, there are emotional costs.
Enter the guilt-free shopping zone. The ways to preserve your wallet and your psyche are remarkably simple:
Each of us has our own reasons to buy gifts, and each of us has our own weaknesses that can get us into trouble by over-spending. However, you can overcome guilt-based gifting to minimize your pain and maximize your pleasure .
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Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2012