No Stress: Why You Should Create a Gift Fund
Holidays are great – they are like bright exotic islands in the ocean of stress and routine that we sail and sail, month after month, year after year. If it wasn’t for fall and winter holidays, we would probably all start suffering from seasonal depression when summer is over and the beautiful colors of the foliage are gone. These fun and festive days are something to look forward to, while preparing and decorating for the holidays can improve our mood and reduce the weary effect of routinely tasks. Now, gift-giving and making someone happy – if this is not the magic that we can create, then what is? However, it isn’t that easy, even if the abundance of choices we can browse online or put into colorful shopping bags seems to be a blessing.
Problem #1: Rushing and procrastinating
The sad thing is that our treadmill-like lifestyles often turn gift purchasing and gift-giving into a chore, making it just another item on our lengthy to-do lists that we’d rather cross out and move on than concentrate on it for a certain period of time. This takes away most of the joy and magic, adding stress instead. Sometimes we put off buying gifts until the last few days, with even more stress and even less chances for anything positive related to this process. It isn’t like we believe it’s not important anymore, or are deliberately trying to cut down on the fun and the expectation of wonder in our lives. This happens mostly due to our busy-life approach of not doing things until they become urgent, or because we are sure that modern shopping opportunities will allow us to do everything very quickly.
Problem #2: Planning and budgeting
Decisions and purchases made in a rush have never been our best ones, often resulting in wasted money and getting things we don’t exactly need or enjoy. Having to deal with that powerful urgency factor is a game you can rarely win without losing some extra money or compromising on quality. Of course, planning and budgeting are a good idea, even if you’re sick and tired of these words these days. The earlier you start planning your holiday expenses (and probably saving some money too), the less likely you’re to spend much more than expected, or to have huge credit card debts (which is not a good beginning of a new year.) This is a great rule, but the holiday season seems to be especially fruitful in exceptions. Plans often change, and too many things can come in between us and what we plan, chipping away at our time and money, adding stress and disappointment.
Read also – 10 Crucial Christmas Shopping Tips
Solution: Take your time and create a gift fund
I have never been good at planning and budgeting for gifts “theoretically”, until I chose a different, “practical” approach. Something would always be unpredictable and unplanned, coming up at the last moment or whenever I already had an avalanche of work-related and other tasks. This would mean the frustration of wishing to get somebody an extra special gift, but ending up buying something not-so-special at all, or even having to make excuses why I can’t join the fun, but will drop by and bring my gift later. My mother wondered, “How can this be a problem today? You can get whatever you want almost instantly. We could hardly ever get anything when we needed or wanted it, so we either had to get it when it was available, or to make something ourselves instead.”
Surprisingly, when I stopped relying on that “almost instantly” thing, it made a big difference, although what I’m doing instead is reminiscent of my mother’s words. My “practical” approach is buying gift items on a regular basis and adding them to a special “gift fund” that I have at home. It’s not like I enjoy hoarding these things, I just prefer to have them handy for whenever I can’t carve out time to shop. This also helps me to buy things at reasonable prices, without that urgency factor pushing me into spending more. Some of them may be on sale, or come as gifts with other purchases, and although it seems I don’t need them at the moment, I know how to put these to good use.
What else is a gift fund good for?
The same is true of nice DIY ideas you come across. You may be reluctant to try them simply because you don’t seem to need these handmade items right now, even if you’ve got the time or have to stay at home with kids due to bad weather. Later, when you need gifts or decorations, you either don’t have time for DIY projects, or they interfere with other family activities, so you just buy whatever you are lucky to find. That’s why I indulge in DIY-ing whenever I can find time for it, and then add the handmade items to my gift fund. Now they are ready to be presented to someone.
Having a gift fund at home is convenient not only around Christmas, when you have a lot of these gift-giving decisions to make. Birthday and surprise gifts can also come out of there, as if it were a magic box. When friends visit us, I can hand their daughter a gift because her birthday was a month ago, or because they have brought a gift for us. When my child gets sick, I always have a small surprise to cheer him up. Last but not least, when some real urgency arises, demanding my full attention quickly, I know I can take a Lego set out of my “magic box”, and I don’t have to worry what my kids are up to while I’m very busy.
Read also – 10 Ways to Make This Christmas More Meaningful
I find this idea even better than simply trying to save some money for gifts, because there’s no way to spend the money on something else – it has already been invested in gifts. But of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t save money for special holiday shopping or enjoy buying a lot of things at once in beautifully decorated malls. This can certainly be fun if you have enough time and money. I find it easier to stretch both over more than just a few days. What are your ways of making holiday preparations less stressful and more enjoyable?