Gift giving season is definitely here and when it comes to special occasions, such as Christmas, weddings or even birthdays, many people agonize over how much they should be spending on these types of gifts.
Part of this is because of societal pressures to spend this money in ways that are unrealistic, expensive and in some ways trying to keep up with other gift givers.
Now the answer to this question is as varied as the lifestyle and economic situation of families and individuals.
But first, you must consider creating a gift-giving budget. So trying to place a dollar amount on this is difficult because of the uniqueness of different situations. It is always a great idea to start saving money exclusively for gifts alone as they can really be a pain in the pocket sometimes.
I will try to put some sense into this practice in a way that allows you to give guilt-free and without pressure.
First of all, the definition of a gift is “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present”. That is a great definition.
So for the sake of this discussion, any amount that you give for a gift should be based on your willingness to give, not your obligation to give.
Now let’s take a look at some practical issues here. Let’s start with a gift account.
If possible, work into your budget the amount of money that you will give to individuals for the year.
This is not your charitable giving; it is to your individual gift giving.
A good place to start is to list all of those in your family that you will buy birthday, Christmas and special occasion gifts for.
List them out and set the budget. Put a real dollar amount for each person. Doing this will definitely make it easier for you to track each gift and your gift expenses. As your family grows, don’t expect this budget to go down every year, instead, it will be the other way around. This is the case with my own family.
Next, add another 20% to the overall gift-giving budget to cover for unexpected and infrequent occasions such as weddings, high school graduation and in some cases unexpected deaths.
This will cover just about everything for individual gifts. Now you can give freely, honestly and without any guilt, obligation or feelings of trying to keep up with the other gift givers.
Now let’s go with some other ideas or concepts. How about combining your gift dollars with one or more people to be able to purchase a more expensive item? This comes in quite handy for occasions such as graduations, weddings and potentially even Christmas.
The recipient will appreciate it, no matter how many contributors there are.
So things you need to consider is the uniqueness of the situation, how close a relationship you have with the recipient and what are you comfortable in giving based on these criteria.
Obviously, giving a birthday gift to your children does not carry the same weight as a birthday gift to someone else’s children.
Focusing on weddings can be a bit trickier, especially with the registry that is popular. Maybe skipping the registry and just giving cash is better. After all, the bride and groom and family have to pay for the event. Maybe cash will help defer these costs. So take the total amount you want to give, and give a part to the engagement, part of the shower and part of the wedding.
So let’s sum it up here. Gift giving should be:
- Freely and without obligation
- Well planned and well budgeted
- Your comfort level on gift giving amounts
- The Importance of the occasion
- The relationship you have with the recipient
- Consider combining with other gift givers for the same occasion to accomplish a higher priced gift
I hope that this gave you some guidelines on gift-giving. But the most important thing to remember is a gift is something given to someone who deserves it, to whom you do not expect any reciprocation.