Are You Gift Giving From the Heart?

The morning after Thanksgiving—the ever-so commercialized “Black Friday” morning most shopaholics anticipate year after year—my Facebook status read: “As much as I love shopping, I’m avoiding ‘Black Friday.’ Rather, I think I’m gonna try to find a space among the hectic bookstore and write. I still like being amongst the masses, but gonna focus on writing about fashion instead of buying it.”

Yet, not two hours after I posted that, I . . . well . . . my thoughts were not in line anymore with what I posted to my FB friends. I assumed that I was strong enough to resist the temptation to hit the mall, even though Barnes and Noble is actually connected to the Montclair Plaza. But after getting coffee and writing, I started flipping through fashion mags over coffee for inspiration, which started to inspire me to find the featured pieces from the ads in the stores. Oh yeah, and because I didn’t exercise before I got to the bookstore, I figured it was only right to walk amongst the crowds of shopaholics. I mean, I am a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant who should be covering ground and doing research. My craving to be inside the world of commercialism at its finest grew—quickly. I wanted to hear chatter filled with various international dialects, witness lots of “You should never have walked out of the house wearing that” outfits, and get toothpick samples of Wetzel Pretzel bites. With the right outlook, shopping at the mall really can be a multi-stimulating experience.

Proudly, I gave in to being a “Black Friday” browser, not a “Black Friday” shopper. Even though there were decent deals all over the place (tons of BOGO deals and clearance this and that), I still found it difficult to focus on buying unique, meaningful gifts when: claustrophobia overcame me in the elevators as well as on the escalators, I got tired of saying “excuse me” as I tried to nicely push my way through the slow-walkers, and when I couldn’t find a seat in the food court for a quick bite and a breather. Overall, this chaotic, supply-and-demand retail event is not for everyone. And certainly it is not for anyone who likes to zip in and out of shops. There are lines of people, many long lines.

But my trip wasn’t a waste just because I didn’t actually spend money on anything besides my coffee. I do enjoy many factors involved with holiday shopping, which includes uncovering what is out there and what you may want to buy the next time you return to the mall. What I especially gained this time around, on “Black Friday,” is slight sadness in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Spending money on shiny things and gadgets are not the only ways to show someone you care. While these things can definitely make the person on the receiving end happy, it can make the person who can’t afford any of this stuff feel inadequate. It can also make the person who is giving a shiny thing or gadget feel completely stressed out because they spent money they really didn’t have. The holiday season is not about gift giving, but because it has become a tradition, we all tend to go along with it—myself included.

This time around, however, I ask that you look within and try to figure out some creative ways to show someone you care. Maybe you have several scarves, and there is one you haven’t worn, which you believe your girlfriend would adore. Why not wrap that up nicely and give it as a gift? The card can read something like “As much I love this, I think it was made for you.” Baked goods always go a long way, too. Maybe you can’t afford to participate in the gift exchange at work. No biggie! Buy a box of brownie mix for three bucks from Target, add just a few additional ingredients (which you probably already have at home), and make a batch for your team at work. That shows effort and sincerity that a $25 gift card to Starbucks usually does not. If you’re a writer, write a poem to a loved one or buy a blank card and fill up the space with your insightful thoughts. The holiday season is an amazing time to let your talent shine!

Despite the commercialist society we live in and the pressure to gift give and spend your hard-earned paychecks just on stuff to show you care, try to evaluate what is important to you as well as to the person you would like to give a gift to. (Ever think that he or she doesn’t even want you to spend money?) Take a little extra time to plan and give from the heart. The person who receives will definitely take notice, and is likely to feel even more special than he or she already does around you.

Happy Holidays!

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