Mindful Holiday Giving

The holiday season is approaching, which for many also means gift-giving season. Take a moment to reflect: how does shopping for gifts affect you?

  • hands holding a small gift wrapped in red paper“I love, love, love giving gifts especially when I know I have found something that will make the other person smile. I think because I grew up pretty poor, as an adult I am so genuinely grateful to be able to give presents to folks I love.” Karen, 34
  • “A lot of holiday gift giving seems perfunctory. I dislike feeling pressure to prove my friendship or love by giving gifts at preordained dates on the calendar.”  Michael, 29
  • “My family and I stopped giving gifts years ago. Now that we are older we don't need more "stuff," and we’d rather just talk or spend time together when we can.” Cynthia, 47

The holidays bring with them a mixture of emotions, but one thing most people can agree on is that it feels good to give a genuine gift—whether that’s a store-bought present, a handmade item, or simply your love and attention. And that rush of excitement you feel when you give someone a gift isn’t just in your imagination—research shows that spending money on others will give you a much bigger boost of happiness than buying something for yourself.

But there’s a downside to the holiday gift-exchange culture, which is the stress that comes along with spending large amounts of money, standing in long lines at the mall, or feeling the pressure to buy for everyone on your list. “Turning on the evening news on Black Friday is the worst,” says Michael, 40. “Seeing stampedes of shoppers fight over a gadget that will be obsolete by February leaves me with little hope for humanity."