Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pre-Christmas Tips For A Good Day

Gift giving 

Who to buy for and how much to spend?
Are you still paying off credit from last Christmas?
Buying for people who ‘have everything’ - what to buy and how much is enough?

Experiences versus stuff. 

Nothing says I am just 'going through the motions',  as much as giving money as a gift. Many people regard cash gifts as “lazy and even inconsiderate. They are offended by the idea that the giver didn’t make any effort to shop for them.

For those with too much stuff already and the means to buy anything at all that we choose, the opportunity is to buy an experience for a loved one that they may not consider or would be shy about buying for themselves.

Why buy gifts anyway? 

Christmas gift giving is seen by some as a “dead weight material loss.” Many people buy gifts that cost far more than the value the recipients assign to them.  But life is not just a transaction. The evidence suggests that people behave reciprocally towards one another, so gift giving can be seen as ‘rational’ even in the context of economics if you view it as a way of strengthening a tie to someone and generating the promise of future ‘gifts’ — in the form of friendship, social networking or other things of value — from them to you.

A study in the US found that the thing that increases “sentimental value" is surprise. Pleasure is greater for unexpected gifts. Surprising gifts amplify enjoyment for both large and small items. Presumably a good surprise - not a dud gift you bought at the service station when you filled up the car.

In addition, sentimental value is increased by effort: “Recipients also felt positively toward givers who worked hard to find the right gift, even when that gift was off the mark. Givers who make the effort, but don’t quite succeed, should be heartened by the fact that recipients recognize the difference between process and outcome,”

Time sharing 

How many people will be coming to your house and then have to rush off for a second “Christmas dinner” with their partners family.

Time spent driving from place to place and cramming Christmas into one day may be counter-productive and spoil the day for parents and children who wind up grumpy and out of sorts, from overload.

Too much rushing, too much food and too much partying.

Family Togetherness – Too much of a good thing. 

A nice thing about Christmas is getting to catch up with family you don’t see often.  The downside of Christmas is having to be cooped up with people you don’t see often and have little in common with, but do have a history of family conflict.

People you don’t usually spend time with – for a reason + a confined space + alcohol and too much food = potential for explosive situations.

Survival Guide For A Happy Christmas 

1. Start with a list of people you intend to buy for and another list for people who may buy something for you.

2. Work out how much you can afford to spend on gifts and how much you can – or want to spend on other preparations for Christmas.

3. Set your spend limit for those on your list – and stick to it as closely as possible.

4. Give yourself time to find a gift that is a good fit for the person.

5. Beware gift cards that expire or mean that the receiver will have to pay more to buy something useful at that store in addition to the amount on the card.

6. Keep receipts in case the gift needs to be returned to the store.

7. Be flexible with how you’ll cover the split family arrangements over Christmas. Make the time you spend together pleasant – even it if means having your share on a different day.

8. Only take on as much as you can do without spending every minute rushing around managing ‘the event’.  Traditions are good but if a hot Christmas dinner is outside your ability to produce, tone it down to something you can cope with more easily.

9. Have lots of water based drinks and ice to serve along with the alcohol.

10. Put on your best attitude for the day and be generous with your friends and family.  Accepting them for this one day without opening up old differences will be a gift to everyone.

Christmas traditions, decorating the house, having the family together, and putting up with the rellies is how we build family cohesion and memories to look back on. It is a chance to strengthen bonds and remember our family ties. These family relationships can suffer with time and distance and loss of the parents who drew us together in the first place.