This morning when I turned on the TV to figure out what’s going on in the world today, I caught the last end of an interview with Joel Waldfogel, author of Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays. His argument has to do with gifts being “economically unsound” because of the “value” of the gift as calculated both financially in and in terms of the buyer’s (or gift receiver’s) perception. Basically his point is “nobody wants this crap.”
And on that front, I agree! A few years ago I decided that instead of buying people gifts, I would donate money to charity in their honor to help out others less fortunate. But because I still wanted people to have something to open under the tree, I made little gift baskets with candy and practical things (like fun chapstick flavors). But with each year, I’ve felt more guilty not giving people presents. Is that totally weird? Feeling guilty for donating to charity? But I felt this pressure like I was not giving my family their fair due by not giving them presents, especially because they gave me presents. But let’s face it – even when you buy a present with all good intentions, sometimes the other person just doesn’t like it. Or doesn’t need it.
I want to bring my focus back onto donating and less onto gifts this year. For those of you who celebrate the holidays this time of year, do you give gifts? How can you be sure that they are meaningful and useful? If you donate to charities, how have you made your family feel special and included in that donation?
And another question – what about struggling retailers who rely on the holidays for a sales kick to carry them through the year? Am I not doing my part by helping out?
Just a few questions that have been on my mind since seeing that interview this morning.