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How to Avoid Holiday Affluenza and Put the Heart Back into the Holidays

As Christmas draws closer, more and more people are feeling anxious and stressed about what gift to give and how much to spend. The morning after Christmas financial hangover is real for many who have overspent on their friends and family. Holiday affluenza is when you focus on material aspects and over-indulge with gifts, exotic travel, and stuff you want. Affluenza is about spending money and giving lots of gifts. The one thing you cannot buy is time together. Ironically, the time spent together is also something you won’t have time for if you’re spending it purchasing the most popular gift or spending money on stuff that no one really needs.

The holidays are about spending time together with those you love, and you cannot buy love. When you give a gift, it isn’t about the money you spend or the popularity of your gift that matters. What matters most is the time you spend selecting the gift and the excitement you feel making your friend or loved one feel special and cherished. If you worry that you too are influenced by the commercial or materialism side of the holidays and gift giving has started feeling superficial to you, I have five ways that will help you avoid affluenza and put your heart back into Christmas.

  1. Focus on the art of giving. Instead of purchasing numerous gifts, make coupons for coffee dates, hiking, or yoga get togethers. With this gift, schedule dates you are free and give your loved one your time and enjoy the activity together.

  2. Instead of getting a gift for everyone, pick one name. In large families, it works nicely to draw names and focus on a special gift for one person. It allows you more time to focus on getting that one person something special to make it more meaningful.

  3. Practice financial self-care and stick to a budget. Plan and look realistically at your budget before shopping. Set aside money specifically for gifts that you can afford and be at ease spending. A good gift doesn’t have to cost a lot. Many times, the simple practical gifts are the best. Spending beyond your means makes you feel taken advantage of by advertising and adds stress to your holiday.

  4. Gift giving is not a competition. It’s easy to get caught up in giving someone an expensive gift because they gave you one the year before. Sometimes family members buy expensive gifts, and you may feel guilty if you don’t reciprocate. The only reason to give a gift is because you cherish someone and want to make them feel special, not to win a competition. Stick to your list and keep your gifts simple and thoughtful.

  5. Keep the spirit in your holiday. Consider a card for your best friends where you connect on a spiritual level. Ask them what they need prayers for and continue the conversation throughout the year ahead. Tell them you want to include prayers for them in your schedule. Life gets busy and we may provide a short greeting of “I will keep you in my prayers,” but making your intention to pray for those you love each day is a wonderful way to add meaning to your holidays and give your loved one a unique and inspiring gift.

Gift giving is one part of a holiday and it’s a wonderful way to show your loved ones how much you care. But gift giving is much deeper than an advertisement or store ad. Your gift doesn’t have to have a monetary price tag to make it special. A gift of you spending time to reconnect and remind your loved ones that they matter is the most wonderful gift of all.


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