It’s that time of year where present shopping not only has me starting a New Year broke, it has me trawling the net daily and stressing like a mad women as each Sunday rolls around and I have one less week to shop.
Growing up, gift giving was so simple. My mum, dad and sister were the only people I needed to cater for and they weren’t exactly a tough crowd. Over time my shopping list extended to a close group of friends, boyfriends, the occasional work colleague and the rare wedding – all still fairly manageable.
Recently though I did a budget to get myself through to the New Year. I based it on the last three months of spending so that it would be realistic. I made a shocking discovery. Surely I couldn’t have spent over $1,000 on gifts in less than 12 weeks? Especially considering those three months hadn’t even included Christmas. But I had, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Quite clearly, I love to ‘gift.’ And I acknowledge and even rather like that there are occasions where giving a gift is all part of a personal or cultural tradition. I’m just not sure that this well-intentioned financial and emotional investment always ends up being a good one.
Perhaps the main issue with gifting is that it has somehow morphed into a competitive sport. The primal hunting and gathering of finding perfect gifts. I admit I feel inexplicable pressure for my gifts to be simultaneously original, thoughtful, relevant, environmentally friendly and if at all possible, reasonably priced. And it’s relentless, no sooner is one gift sorted before another one looms on the horizon. When I mentioned this gifting conundrum – not to mention the $1,000 I’d blown – to my partner – he was not at all surprised. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘you and your friends buy heaps of gifts. It’s weird, I never really buy any except for you.’ This is indeed true – I have been appointed official gift-buyer for our household. It’s one of those jobs that tends to have ‘female domain’ stamped all over it. I guess it’s a natural progression, women ‘love to shop’ right? Little does he know the pressure, the ‘gift grief’ that often clouds this all-too-frequent retail responsibility.