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There’s a lot to do during the holiday season—don’t let gift giving add to the stress.

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The holiday season can be stressful, even if it’s filled with the best of intentions and good cheer. One task that many people find stressful is buying gifts for everyone on their lists. Although gift-giving is a joyful activity, it can also take its toll on the gift-giver. Stress not only causes negative effects in the short term, but chronic stress can be bad for your health in more ways than one and should be avoided or managed as much as possible.

Don’t let gift-giving be a daunting task. Here are 5 ways to make the activity more stress-free:

      1. Stick to a budget. Buying gifts can really add up, especially with the rising cost of everything these days. Don’t spend more than you feel comfortable with for any one person or for your entire list. If money is tight and you don’t have as much to spend as usual, that’s okay. Find creative ways to show you care that won’t break the bank. Make a batch of peppermint bark instead of buying something at the store. Offer to pet sit. Plan a special movie or game night.
      2. Agree to skip the gifts. Just because you’ve always exchanged gifts with certain people doesn’t mean you have to continue to do so. In many cases, people keep giving gifts to each other out of a feeling of obligation. Instead, consider agreeing to ditch the gifts this year. It may not only ease your stress but may ease other people’s as well. If you still want to do something special, jointly plan an activity you can enjoy together.
      3. Ask recipients what they like. If you can’t skip the gift (or don’t want to), consider asking recipients what they want. This makes your job easier, easing the stress of finding just the right gifts. Recipients will also be happy because they will get something they’ll enjoy. After all, how many times do you get a gift that you don’t care for or will never use?
      4. Shop online or give gift cards. It can be a daunting task to run from store to store buying gifts. But there’s no reason to do so, unless it’s something you love to do. You can buy just about anything online these days, and very often you can find better prices by doing so. If you know a person has a favorite store, consider getting a gift card so they can pick out what they want.
      5. Remember it’s the thought that counts. Don’t get caught up in having to find the right gift for each person on your list. When giving or receiving gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Your good intentions are the most impressive part of any gift exchange, not the gift itself. Instead of stressing over the “perfect” gift, think about what may make the recipient happiest. In many cases, that may not be a physical object, but rather time spent with you doing something meaningful or creating new traditions.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 18, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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