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Gift anxiety – what is it and how can you avoid it?

Posted: 26/10/2015

clip_image002When you’re a child, Christmas Day is a very special occasion. You’ve spent the past few months (possibly all year) telling your parents how much you want that shiny new bike or dolls house and if you don’t get it then you probably aren’t going to make too much of an effort to hide your crushing disappointment that Santa Claus didn’t get your order right!

However, as we get older and we realise that it’s actually our friends and family who are responsible for gift buying, sitting around the Christmas tree and handing out gifts can become a much more complicated affair that can leave many people very anxious and stressed.

What is gift anxiety?

People can feel anxious about giving and receiving gifts for all kinds of reasons. Not only are there financial pressures that come with buying presents for friends and family, especially for children, but there is also the worry that the person might not like the gift. From the receiver’s perspective there is the pressure of making sure that person who has given you the gift knows that you are appreciative, even if you might not actually like the gift you have been given. Here are some of the common worries that are associated with gift anxiety:

  • “I am worried that they won’t like the gift”
  • “I couldn’t afford to get them what they wanted, I hope they aren’t disappointed”
  • “This person is so hard to buy for, I hope this will do”
  • “I wish they hadn’t spent so much money on me”
  • “I really don’t like this but I can’t let them know I’m disappointed”

Giving gifts

As enjoyable as Christmas Day can be and as much as we want to show our loved ones how much we care about them, the process of finding presents can be a difficult one. From battling the queues on the high street to finding gifts for people who have everything they want, it can be hard to get things right. Givers are often worried about whether the person will like the gift they have given, whether they might have it already and most of all whether they will be disappointed.

Receiving gifts

Christmas presents are a two way thing and hopefully you will receive just as many presents as you give away. However, receiving presents can be just as nerve racking. Commonly people will become very anxious about the amount of money the other person may have spent on them, whether they might already have the gift, how they will still show appreciation despite not wanting a gift and if they don’t like the present then how they will return it.

What to do

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is supposed to be fun and most people will be happy with any gift they receive – as the saying goes “it’s the thought that counts”. However, if you aren’t willing to settle for that and want to make doubly sure that you both receive and give away presents which are truly wanted then you should make sure to make a Christmas list. Preparing a Christmas list with a number of items that you would like is a sure –fire way to make sure that all parties involved get something they truly want. By listing items you want throughout a range of prices you need not feel guilty about how much money someone has spent on you, and as a buyer you have the option to purchase something that won’t break the bank but still shows that person you appreciate them.

For more tips and advice on making Christmas time as stress free and enjoyable as possible, see our full length guide here.

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How to take the stress out of your Christmas

Secrets to maximising family time 

Fun activities to make the most of your time as a family