Create Happy, Enjoyable Holiday Giving
by Terra Wellington
Seasonal giving is a part of this time of year. You're encouraged to give everywhere and to everyone.
Give gifts, give time, give money, give happiness. Donation announcements and results are played over and over on the radio and promoted on television. Christmas angels abound in every retail outlet. The kids, spouse, and extended family make gift lists, and everyone seems to have high expectations.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Dr. Dan Johnston, of Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia, told me that because of the mass media's news stories, Christmas television specials, and retail advertising, the hope for an unrealistic holiday experienced is raised. "The reality of 'what is,'" he says, "often falls short of the expectation, and there is disappointment."
Also author of Lessons for Living: Simple Solutions for Life's Problems, Dr. Johnston says that holiday expectations, or expectations of any sort, are important because they pull us along, but he advises people to be positive, realistic, and hopeful. "Stay within the realm of the possible."
One way to have realistic expectations is to approach the holidays with a positive mindset. "Plan your charitable activities early, which will put you in a better frame of mind long before the holidays come," says New York Holistic Therapist and Counselor Dr. Adrian Calabrese.
She advises to think ahead, before the season is upon you, about how you want to spend your time during the holidays.
Her recommendations include considering holiday activities that don't infringe upon your joy, that make someone's life better in a small way, or that include family members and friends.
By doing service activities together with your loved ones, Dr. Calabrese told me, it adds fun and fulfillment, such as caroling at the local hospital together or serving holiday meals at shelters; in this way you feel good because you're still spending time with your nearest and dearest while also giving of yourself.
Atlanta, Georgia Certified Financial Planner Kay Shirley says that planning your spending for the holidays is also an imperative aspect of setting sensible holiday gift-giving goals.
The Live Long and Profit author says not to use credit cards for holiday gift buying. "I'll have my client set $1000.00 as an overall Christmas budget. Start subtracting from the $1000.00 every time a gift is bought. This helps control spending as you see the balance going down. It really is about counting your money."
Giving of yourself is also a way to not only reduce expenses but make each gift special and meaningful. Here are some ideas:
Give gifts that are extensions of your passion or talent. If you are an excellent cook, show off that talent in baking gifts for others. If you are a writer, write custom poems or create custom holiday verses and cards. If you like the outdoors, offer to take a boy or girl to the park to play sports or go on a hike.
Give yourself the gift of a helper's high. Choose an organization that needs volunteers and spend a designated block of time helping others.
Give service gift certificates. Make handmade service gift certificates that offer services at a future date. For example, cleaning house, cooking a meal, an evening out, computer lessons, driving an older person to a doctor's appointment, babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, car washing, or yard work.
Give the gift of prayer. If you are spiritually minded, pray for others this holiday season.
© Copyright 2003 Terra Wellington