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Here's how I give good gift

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.

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I actually think my partner would make a better gift buyer than me.  He would purchase items without worrying whether they made him look bad. Or whether a particular towel set shade would exactly match my mother’s recently painted bathroom. In fact he would probably shop with abandon and knock over all of our Christmas shopping in less than a day, on budget, and wonder what all my fretting was about.

Perhaps it’s time I fly the white flag of gift defeat. Admit that I find it all too hard. Suggest that my mum, dad, sister, husband, close friends, extended family, colleagues, neighbours and in-laws simply save the cash earmarked for me or buy themselves something nice whilst I do the same.   Alternatively I could hand over the gifting crown to my husband (and risk getting weird looks under the Christmas tree.) Deep down though, I know this won’t fly.  Despite the heart palpitations and credit card debt, I would be sad if there were no gifts in my life – both the ones I get and the ones I hunt down, slay and give. So instead I will spend the next few weeks saving the soggy junk mail catalogues, madly ordering expensive gifts online (express please) and then remembering on Christmas Eve that I’ve forgotten to buy wrapping paper. Ah the joy.

Sarah is a mother of one. She has a husband, a cat, a compost bin and an unnecessarily large TV

What will you be buying for Christmas?

If you have someone that you need to buy a gift for and have no idea what to buy here’s your chance to ask the Mamamia community. Just tell us who you are buying for – age, gender and interests and somebody is bound to have an idea for you. Let’s do it!

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