Giving smaller, sentimental gifts should be normalized, more valuable than large, expensive gifts


Leah Tan

As the holiday season is upon us, it’s easy to get bogged down in finding the perfect gift for our loved ones. Sometimes, I’ll spend as much as three hours endlessly clicking links to find a gift that will make them happy. This search often results in the complete loss of the money I earned from my last paycheck, a common phenomenon for most gift shoppers. In fact, shopping trends during the holiday season are extremely costly; according to the National Retail Federation, households spend approximately an average of $1,000 on holiday gifts alone. 

But is it worth it to spend so much on gifts that are likely to be used once? The answer is no. It’s time we save ourselves from the shopping spree and get rid of our money-driven, gift-giving culture to embrace another type of gift: homemade, sentimental ones.

In order to understand why we should reject our current gift-giving culture, it’s important to acknowledge its purpose. The point of giving gifts is to communicate our appreciation for one another. Judging the value of a gift by its monetary value completely diminishes that. However, when you make or pick a gift because of some underlying reason other than its price tag, you communicate your effort and sentiment to the receiver. More often than not, I’ve cherished the smaller, sentimental types of gifts much more than the expensive, showy ones; I feel significantly more loved and appreciated when I know the gift was given with my best interests in mind. There’s a reason why reading birthday cards are by far my favorite part of the gift: I get to see their true personality that I adore shine through.

But beyond that, our emphasis on the price of gifts unfairly favors those who are more financially able to purchase such gifts. We’ve completely undermined the value of homemade gifts by stereotyping it to be shoddy, last-minute gifts made by those who don’t care. As a result, we’ve created a stigma around giving such gifts, in turn stigmatizing those who are unable to afford splurging on so many gifts over the holiday season. Gift-giving is a love language, it should be accessible to everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to act like all expensive gifts are bad—if someone gifted me tickets to the Bahamas I would happily take them. However, it’s important to make the distinction that a gift’s monetary value is not directly correlated to how good of a gift it is. We need to overcome the expectation of both receiving and giving such expensive gifts and instead appreciate the little things. After all, a little can go a long way.

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