Friday, December 02, 2005

To Gift or not to Gift

Well, we are rapidly approaching that time of year when many of us choose to exchange cards and/or gifts. Which leads to a dilemna. How do you determine who is card-worthy or gift-worthy or both? There are givens, like immediate family members (normally). But there are always those people who are on the bubble. There are those who are new in your life. They are a friend of a friend who you cross paths with frequently. There are those who you carded last year - have they moved up to gift status this year? There are those who you aren't sure you'll run into over the season - so are they postage-worthy? And there are those hangers-on who have been on your list in past years, but who you no longer really talk to or see outside of the holiday season. Should they be bumped down a notch? Dropped off the list. And there are people who you sent something last year - but got no response. What to do?

Well, I'm here to help! Okay - only in a philosophical type way. But nonetheless.

  • One handy-dandy measuring stick is - would you be embarrassed if they sent you something and you hadn't sent anything for them? Now if you are one of those people who would always be embarrassed, then this rule won't be much use to you. Because you can't get something for everyone. But, in order to allay some concerns I do recommend having a couple of generic cards (and a pen) on hand. You can pre-write a generic message ("Happy holidays! Love, Me") and have it sealed ready for the card to get a name on the front. Keep them handy (purse, car, desk).
  • Miss Manners says anyone who did not respond to your gift can be removed from your list. Now, if it is a family member, this may get sticky so you may want to weigh the sticky factor before striking this offender from the rolls - but at the very least they should be downgraded on your list. Now, I should clarify that a response does not mean they sent you an equivalent gift or card - it means they acknowledged your thoughtfulness without you having to call to make sure they received it.
  • Another possibility is making a donation to a charity in the name of your family and friends (you don't have to name them all). You can then notify people - by card or otherwise - that you have made a donation on their behalf. That should help you take care of/pare down a portion of your list.
  • I'm a fan of sending out lots of cards. I may not have gotten to talk to or correspond with every person that year, but sometime the card is what starts the cycle up again. But if this person's only reason for being on the list is that they have always been there and you don't even really care to hear from them - drop them.

    The original traditions surrounded given presents to brighten up the days of those less fortunate, celebrating the change of the seasons, and gathering with friends and family. Those are the important parts. All this gift and card stuff should be fun. (I know - easy to say). So, try to keep that in mind when fighting through crowded malls and crazy traffic. Try.