4 Secrets to Mindful Giving During the Holidays

Guest Post by Megan deBoer

As parents, we are often filled with conflicting desires during the holidays: we want to satisfy our children’s wishes, we want to make the holiday magical, we want to create our own family traditions all without causing financial stress and unwelcome credit card bills.  And so we try to plan…

Yet despite our best planning, there can come a moment during the whirlwind and heightened emotions of the holiday season when we find ourselves making impulsive, reactive, and unconscious spending choices.  We can be swept up in the mood, the beautiful display, the “deal!” and the hectic pace of it all.  It is easy to loose our bearings.

I have found that in moments like these I need some grounding.

To ensure that you are making mindful choices, run the following assessment when considering the purchase of a gift.  If the questions cannot be answered on the spot, it is important to pause, put the item on hold, possibly leave the store, and give yourself the time – and space – to come to a decision that feels right.  You haven’t said no yet, you are simply exploring a new process of mindful spending!

Assessing a mindful GIFT

GENEROUS–

Is this gift Generous in spirit?  Thoughtful giving is a true art.  The amount spent does not reflect your generosity by itself.  Young children are easily delighted with something that engages their imagination.   Our adult value scale does not apply.

INTENTION–

What is my Intention in giving this gift?

  • Is this something I always wanted as a child but never received?
  • Am I worried that if my child doesn’t receive X that they could experience disappointment?  Is that uncomfortable for me to imagine?  Will I experience disappointment if I cannot give this to my child?
  • Is it uncomfortable for me to compare my gift to what others will be giving?  To what their friends will receive?  To what I have given in the past?
  • Am I afraid that what I have already gotten won’t be ‘enough’?
  • Will this gift satisfy a long awaited wish for my child?
  • Will this gift inspire my child – who they are right now – and add joy to their life?

FAIR –

Is the cost of this gift Fair to our family’s resources?  Does it fit into my spending plan?  If not, is there a creative way that I can give this gift (or an alternate) responsibly?

TIME —

Will my child have the necessary Time – and space – to enjoy this gift?  Our children are given gifts from many family members – for birthdays and holidays.   It can be overwhelming for them to receive more gifts than they can actually enjoy in their available time.

We can justify most spending – especially to our children – if we craft the right story to tell ourselves.  But giving mindfully means we give generously, with clear intention, in a way that is fair to our resources, and honors the time and space our children must have in order to receive and enjoy the gift.

Our gifts have the amazing ability to become a symbol of our love in tangible form. Sometimes they feed our souls and sometimes our bodies, like the Manly Man edible arrangements a friend of mine received last year. Our gifts can also hold unintended and unconscious messages.  Our unconscious spending does not serve us, or our children, in the way we may hope.

This season, give mindfully and trust that your love is the purest gift – in tangible or intangible form.  Exaggerate the magic, the mystery, and the endurance of love in your celebrations.  Share your own joy abundantly with your children and spouses in the traditions that give meaning to you – this is a gift that your children will pass to your grandchildren, and all the children who will come after them.

May you have a joyous holiday season, mindfully celebrating and sharing all the joy you have in your life!

Megan deBoer is a certified Financial Recovery? Counselor, and mother of two rapidly growing girls.  She supports couples and individuals across the country as they craft a healthy relationship with their money.  Visit TendedWealth.com to find out more.

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