Christmas Back to Basics

Spend Less and Enjoy More

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It is estimated that Americans will spend 830$ on gifts this year - this amount is higher than in any year after 2007. It's an increase with almost 15% from previous year, so expect a lot of presents. However, in the current economy, is it worth maximizing your credit card in order to show those around you how much you care?

Subsequently, a poll made by the American Psychological Association reported that nearly 1 in 4 Americans feel ‘extreme stress’ during holiday season. Among most common reasons, they stated lack of time, lack of money or the pressure of giving gifts. To fight with the last two reasons, some consumers are going against the commercialization of Christmas and decide to spend less or no money on the holidays, emphasizing the home-made gift and those with symbolic meanings.

Further on, where and how Christmas shopping takes place can also have an impact on the amount of stress people feel. Shopping in large and crowded shopping malls can be extremely tiring, especially when holiday deals are on. This is why more and more consumers are making their holiday shopping online. Like this, they can check products in their own tempo, from the comfort of their home, without being bothered by pushy sales clerks or overwhelmed by other consumers. As a result, around 46% of the holiday shoppers are expected to purchase gifts online, up from 44% in 2014.

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What not to spend money on

Among most common gifts, the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey showed gift cards remain on the top of the list, as almost 60% of the consumers stating they would like this type of gift. Next places are taken by clothes and accessories, then books, DVDs and video games. However, as seen above some of these popular gifts might not be the best idea.

It is a known fact that many of the presents end up in the back of a cupboard, are given to somebody else the following year or are being returned. Why get stressed about buying (expensive) presents when they might not be used or even appreciated? The graph above shows the most common Christmas presents being returned, according to MarketTools.

As an example, clothes are often bought and very often being returned the days following Christmas. Unless you know the person very well and understand his/her style, this is a very risky purchase. Buying accessories might be a better idea, as a classical piece of jewlery or a warm scarf are more neutral and easier to combine. However, gift cards are a safer bet, as the receiver can choose on his/her own a useful gift. It might be not as personal as a hand-picked gift, but it will for sure make people happy.

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Christmas Back-to-Basics

Many of us spend huge amounts of money on various presents for everybody. Common examples are your co-worker who helped with your network issue, for the neighbor that fed your cat last summer or your aunt you never find time to call. How to keep it simple? Make a list with those you want or need to buy presents for. Don’t include everybody, but just those who you truly want to share the holidays for, and those you need to (for example, due to Secret Santa at the office).

Then, figure out how many of them would be better off with a symbolic, hand-made present, like home-made chocolate or a knitted scarf. Don’t get tricked by sales and end up buying a bunch of items on sale, thinking to decide later whom they are for. This may easily lead you to overspending or buying things you don’t actually need. Stick to your list and buy thought-through items.

Finally, those close to you are often happier just by spending time with you. An expensive perfume would not make your grandmother happier than a cozy afternoon in your house, where you re-connect over a nice home-cooked meal. Hand-written cards or a Christmas carols-jam on guitar you organize for them is much more valuable than anything you can buy.

This Christmas, forget about the material and spend quality times with those you care about. It should be a peaceful and joyful time, not a stressful month. So spend less and enjoy more! Happy Holidays!

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