By Younas Chaudhary
Inflation has dampened spirits but nearly 84% of Americans plan to buy gifts for friends and family this year, according to a survey by NerdWallet. Due to inflation, 36% plan to give different types of gifts and 35% plan to spend less per person compared to years past.
The season of gift giving is upon us, and I would like to reflect on my views on giving and receiving gifts. As a child growing up, I received gifts only twice a year, once during the big Islamic holiday, the Eid-al-Adha, and the other during small Eid, the Eid-al-Fitr.
Around the age of six, my mother gave me one of my most prized gifts during one Eid. My mother specially sewed a new coat, a new shirt, trousers, and a new sweater (see picture) for me. Other gifts that I cherished during my childhood included laced-up shoes and a bicycle that my father gifted me during my teenage years.
Unfortunately, during my early years, my family never celebrated birthdays. Until arriving in Canada in the 1970’s, I never knew birthdays were important in the West but some of my friends started celebrating my birthday by giving me gifts. At first, it was odd for me as I was shy and did not want to celebrate my birthday but, as the years went by, I often looked forward to that important day! Later, I adopted it into my own family, and we started celebrating all our birthdays consistently and giving and getting gifts became part of our family’s new tradition.
Today, I relish the joy of giving gifts that I feel are useful and relevant to the person. I believe giving cash, or other simple useful day to day items, and things that come from the heart are the best gifts.
Focus on giving useful gifts that you can afford without draining your bank accounts or racking up debt on your credit cards. If you do not know the particular likes of the person you are gifting, its best to give gift cards from known stores, along with a preprinted card or a hand-written note with a caring message so it may be remembered by the person receiving it.
Also, it is important to give useful, simple gifts to people who are well- to-do. Instead of thinking “Well, he/she can buy anything they desire, so why give a gift?” you need to include them also in your gift giving list. Just because someone has the financial means does not mean that you simply ignore them when giving gifts.
Over the years, I have realized that the best gift is to help someone genuinely in need. I began this decades ago when I was struggling financially myself. The feeling that I got when giving gifts to needy individuals and communities was something special. It is worthwhile when you give gifts without any expectations or hoping for anything in return.
So, as you are feeling blessed this year, give meaningful gifts to the people around you who deserve your care, compassion, and love. Do not overspend using your credit cards just to buy gifts to score points with friends, families, and communities as it will take away the joy of gift giving. Stay blessed!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.