The surprise of receiving a gift is exciting—peeling back the wrapping paper to finally see your present is an excellent payoff with plenty of ceremony. This big reveal does have a dark side, though. Some people struggle to decide what to buy because they want this unveiling to be perfect. They develop significant anxiety surrounding these events, and these feelings can build to a crescendo, especially during holiday months. To learn how to ease your gift-giving anxiety, we recommend incorporating the following practices.
Investigate What’s at the Heart of Your Anxiety
Anxiety isn’t a simple phenomenon. It originates from a plethora of different factors that twist together. First, you need to untie the knot and investigate why you’re experiencing it. Do this yourself, with trusted friends, or with a counselor. Three common reasons for gift-giving anxiety are:
- You have too many gift options and feel an accompanying lack of control.
- You fear that others will think you’re shallow or don’t “get them.”
- You’re presuming the gesture means more than it actually does.
Narrow Your Choices
To address the first concern and ease your gift-giving anxiety, make gift shopping into a science as well as an art form. Build categories to narrow your choices. These can be anything that helps you, including:
- Budget – $25, $75, etc.
- Practical vs. fun
- Outdoor recreation vs. indoor recreation
- Their favorite clothing or interior design style
- Categorize by room of the house
These demonstrate the kinds of groupings that’ll help you take a breath and make a choice. If you’re prone to wander away from a category you chose, reel yourself in. Restricting yourself will pay off in the long run and may even help you be creative in new ways.
Make it Personal
Next, if you’re worried about what your recipient will think about you, make the gift-giving process personal. You might try hand-making a gift (which could invite more self-criticism) or doing a superb wrap job or writing a nice card. In general, your priority should be them, not yourself or the people around you.
Imagine How You’ll Handle the Gift-Giving Process
Connected to fearing others’ perceptions is the worry over how much the gesture will mean to someone. If you often overexert yourself because you’re trying to make a grand statement about them or your shared relationship, try walking through the day that you’ll give it realistically.
For instance, let’s think about a Christmas party—consider that there may be tens of gifts. Realize that, at some point, the luster of opening gifts wears off and recipients’ reactions aren’t as sharp. In any situation, this imaginative practice allows you to prepare for whatever way someone responds to the item you spent hours picking out.