So much press has been given these last few days to our collective spending and while that is economically interesting, our focus should really be on giving instead. This may be a little late for many of you, but for those who are like me and have yet to purchase a single gift, here are a few thoughts...
Give only what you can afford. Giving gifts beyond our means not only hurts us when January rolls around, it simply isn't authentic. Part of who we are is our financial situation and when we represent ourselves as having more than we actually do, we create an image of ourselves that is inaccurate. Be truthful to yourself and those around you. Stay within your means.
Consider consumables. My friend Melissa over at Ms. Simplicity is a big fan of giving gifts that don't hang around to clutter the home later. Her recent post on giving experiences has a lot of great ideas as well.
Remember that the gift is for them, not you. Make sure that when you're giving someone something that you love that they will love it, too. Even those gifts that seem benevolent - like gifts to charities in honor of our loved ones - can sometimes be about what we love best, not what the recipient loves best. It should be obvious that we should keep the other person in mind, but we've all received gifts that were more about them than us. Try not to do that to others.
Move beyond the gift card. I have teenagers so I get it. But try for something a little bit thoughtful, too. Think in terms of a gift card plus a small item - perhaps a favorite candy bar, a book mark or an ornament would add a little bit of personality to your gift giving.
Have fun! Giving gifts should be a joy and if it isn't, something isn't right. Take some time to figure out what it is that's bugging you and fix it. Perhaps you're spending too much, giving something that you know a person doesn't need, or feel that there's no heart in simply selecting something off a wish list. If so, adjust and do what feels right for you when selecting gifts for the ones you love.