Lower Your Holiday Stress With These Gift Ideas

Do you ever start getting that weird little knot in your stomach when this season comes around and it’s time to start thinking about gift buying for your loved ones? The fact is that life hasn’t gotten less busy for most of us. It’s often hard to carve out time to leave work, struggle through traffic and crowds of other shoppers, find the exactly perfect gift, get it home, wrap it, go back to the post office or UPS, and finally have that thing shipped. Psychologists tell us that, even though the holidays are important for human connection and celebration, these times spike our overall anxiety meter and make us feel lots of stress.

Whether you’re buying for that person who has everything here at home, or trying to make sure that someone far away feels loved, there are several ways to use online shopping that can help you cut away most of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts details that drain the joy from what should be a season of warmth and connection.

You already know about going to Amazon and having them ship gifts directly to the people on your gift list. All of us know how to stop at the kiosk at the supermarket where they sell gift cards for everything from Red Lobster and Starbucks to McDonald’s and Cabela’s. Some people really love getting cash cards, but do you ever feel like those presents are just an “oh, I give up—find your own gift” surrender?

Here are three ideas for sending gifts that will help your people know that you care and put thought into what you’ve sent:

1). Give Experiences. A cashmere scarf is wonderful (better, let’s say, than that bag of Slim Jims, Skittles, and Fix A Flat you bought on the way to the holiday dinner at the only convenience store that was still open—then taped a cheap bow on top at the stoplight), but have you thought about paying for a hot air balloon ride, cooking classes with a local chef, community art classes, rock climbing sessions, or tickets to an upcoming concert? Hint: a Groupon e-gift card makes it easy to let them shop for hot local experiences, and won’t seem a bit depersonalized or mass-produced.

2). Intelligent Gifts. Compliment the mind of someone on your list by sending him or her a special subscription to a magazine, book-of-the-month club, or even an online course. Has someone in your life always wanted to learn a new language, pick up artistic or technical skills, or how to play the guitar? You will be surprised at how many highly rated (and affordable) online courses are available.

3). Gifts of Time. In our hectic world, most of us don’t really need more stuff. We crave human connection and time together. What if you picked from some of the ideas in #1 and send a note that says, “I want to invite you to do this ______ with me at a time that works for both of us. It’s my treat!”? The gift of your own time spent doing something that matters with someone you care about doesn’t need to be expensive, either. It only needs to be something meaningful that you both can enjoy.

These are just a few ideas and I hope that they have ignited your own creative engine to come up with the perfect gifts that will feel fresh and alive for both you and those who receive them. If you come up with something spectacular that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to send me a note and tell me about it!


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