With Mariah Carey echoing from every wall, and Black Friday’s annual spending spree still in recent memory, the consumerist American Christmas season is in full swing. We often use this season as an excuse to hurriedly purchase the latest tech, Funko Pop! figurines, and socks for expectant family and friends, but in so doing, we miss the point. To refocus the Christmas season on what truly matters, it’s time to make our loved ones front and center! Tis the season of celebrating what we mean to each other. Forget about the consumerist world’s fads— make this year’s gift-giving experience meaningful. (And don’t worry! I have some ideas to help.)
It’s important to reevaluate our Christmas experience because we demean the holiday when we prioritize material goods over time well-spent with our loved ones. We can’t fill the void between one another with kitschy objects. There are some things, it turns out, that Americans can’t buy. Instead, we need to put in the time to invest in, and truly enjoy, each other.
We often lament how hard it is to find “the perfect gift,” proceeding to purchase a thoughtless gift card or some random tchotchke made in China. Sure, some of these items can be temporarily fun or even useful, but they remain impersonal.
Ditching materialism is especially important this year as rampant inflation has been hurting Americans’ wallets. So, if you’re still stressed about finding that perfect gift for your best friend or sibling, consider trading in that enormous holiday bill on impulse buys for something a little more thoughtful and creative.
Make this the Christmas when you finally focus on family and friends, not what items you’re going to give and receive. There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts (everyone loves gifts!), but put in the extra effort to make this an extra joyous holiday season. According to a Vistaprint survey, 62 percent of Americans would prefer presents that “come from the heart” and “feel more personal.” Imbuing a gift with sentimentality requires effort, but it’s well worth it.
With that in mind, here are a few ideas to improve this year’s Christmas gift-giving experience:
#1) Add a thoughtful note to an otherwise “normal” gift.
A simple heartfelt card can make a world of difference. Explain why you chose the gift and how it suits the recipient. Offer a compliment (not a generic one, but something you really mean). Maybe you love all the songs your sister shares with you, or you love that your best friend pulls all-nighters with you during midterms. Show your gift’s recipient that you’re thankful for having him or her in your life. And have fun with it! I always love using fountain pens to make my notes extra festive.
#2) Gift something that references a fun memory you shared together.
Get a gift that references an inside joke or acts as a memento for one of your favorite times together. Something random that riffs off an old memory together can make for a great stocking stuffer, in lieu of the loose candy and gizmos that are the norm.
#3) Gift new memories via planned experiences.
Purchase concert tickets to see a band that you and your girlfriend both love. Sign up to take an art class with your sibling. Or take your best friend to that new restaurant everyone raves about. Take the time to tailor the experience to the recipient. What do they love doing? What will make them happy? Experiences are easy to obtain, but it takes thought to make them meaningful. When well-planned, that’s exactly why they’re such spectacular gifts!
#4) Write a thank you note.
Finally, thank-you notes are a simple yet kind gesture that wrap up the Christmas season nicely. With a list of your favorite people in hand, get some nice stationery, and write a few per night or dedicate one afternoon to do them all together. Who would you not have wanted to spend 2021 without? Ring in the New Year by thanking them for the past year you’ve spent together!
Good luck, and Merry Christmas!
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.